Deathmantle Set Rogue Cosplay at Blizzcon 2014

(Photo credit: Wowhead)

(As always, this is being cross-posted on Ravenholdt, which thinks you should be calling your mother more often.)

It was a very stealthy BlizzCon.

In the live raid competition between Method and Midwinter, we watched as a Midwinter rogue cast Shroud of Concealment to help the raid sneak past trash mobs — only to see the strategy turn against them. We spotted nary a rogue in the WoW Arena Championship match between Bleached Bones and Skill-Capped EU, and Firebat swept the Hearthstone World Championship grand finals without using his rogue deck — BUT WE KNOW HE HAD ONE, so that counts in our corner, even though it’s not directly related to WoW at all.

Plus we saw at least one cool example of rogue cosplay, with these two not only sporting what I think might be the Tier 5 (Deathmantle) raid set, but also my personal favorite rogue weapon, the Twinblade of the Hakkari.

But what most of you probably want to know is: Did designers answer any rogue questions during the Warcraft panel discussions?

Why, yes. Yes they did.

Although there were just two World of Warcraft panels at this year’s BlizzCon (and basically no new game info was presented), four rogue questions were addressed. Considering two of those questions were answered during a panel that expressly forbade class-specific questions, rogues represented particularly well, with many of our key class concerns briefly taking the spotlight. Our own Haileaus (!) even managed to refashion a question about rogue positional requirements into a general class-design query.

Rogue Q&A: Quick Recap

You can read full transcripts of each rogue Q&A exchange in the Ravenholdt version of this post, but here’s the gist:

  1. Suicidal Killing Spree. Some boss fights severely punish the use of KS and other abilities that teleport us to/behind the target. Ion Hazzikostas said they do alter specific fights to alleviate that when the boss doesn’t move, but for *mobile* bosses, they consider that risk of death to be a “tactical element” of the fight that is “taken into account” when balancing the class.
  2. Combo point UI. They stack on the rogue now, but the default WoW UI hasn’t changed. Kris Zierhut admitted that the designers tried different ideas, but simply couldn’t come up with a new UI approach that wasn’t “jarring” for people used to seeing CPs under the target frame. So instead, they’ll look at what add-on authors come up with and consider adapting that.
  3. Positional requirements. After a Day 1 panel session in which Zierhut explained that positional requirements had been removed from all druid spells because they were unreliable and not fun, Haileaus asked why that didn’t apply to abilities like Backstab and Gouge. Tom Chilton replied that they balance “how important the mechanic is” against “the overall feel and fantasy of the class,” and sometimes they feel the fantasy should win out.
  4. Balancing talent tiers. Another rogue player, while avoiding mentioning any specific rogue talents, asked about the balance of DPS talents vs. non-DPS talents in various tiers. Tom Chilton replied that it’s a very organic process — they gauge how many people actually use talents in each tier, improve or replace the ones nobody takes, and generally try not to tone down extremely powerful talents unless it’s absolutely necessary for game balance.

Again, hop over to Ravenholdt to see the transcripts of these Q&A excerpts.

(This is cross-posted on Ravenholdt, the most rogue-iest rogue site in historogue.)
Tuning changes for all classes have continued into the first week following the launch of the major pre-expansion Patch 6.0.2. The rogue, she is not immune from these post-launch hotfixes; our class received three small-but-critical adjustments over the past several days.
Wound Poison’s damage was reduced by 40% (Oct. 16). Looks like a big nerf; it’s more like a necessary correction. In PvE, Wound Poison had been looking really strong late in the Warlords beta/PTR — so strong, in fact, that for raiders it appeared better than Deadly Poison. Which would be really weird, since WP is not intended for use in raiding; many bosses are immune to the healing reduction debuff, which can create issues with Assassination’s Venemous Wounds ability.
Anyway, moot point now, since it looks like the WP damage nerf did the trick; ShadowCraft now indicates that using WP instead of IP results in a roughly 3% to 6% reduction in DPS, depending on spec (the gap is smallest for Subtlety, largest for Assassination).
Hemorrhage’s damage was increased by 20% (Oct. 16). Late in the beta/PTR, Backstab and Hemo received a series of changes that appeared to be aimed at ensuring that 1) Subtlety DPS in general wasn’t too much stronger than other specs/classes and 2) Backstab was clearly superior to Hemo. We saw a few players express concerns that the designers went too far with that second goal, and actually made Hemo too weak (a particular concern for people leveling or solo-playing in Sub spec). Looks like the designers agreed.
Cloak and Dagger got a bug fix (Oct. 17). Players quickly noticed, once Patch 6.0.2 went live, that Cloak and Dagger was once again usable by Subtlety rogues during Shadow Dance — a feature that was taken away during the Mists expansion because it was too powerful in PvP. The return of CnD-in-Dance was confirmed to be a bug, and a hotfix resulted that has taken away the ability for rogues in Shadow Dance to take advantage of the extended range-plus-teleport that CnD grants us on Ambush, Cheap Shot and Garrote.
These unexpected CnD changes have spurred a new round of discussion among players regarding what’s wrong with the entire Level 60 talent tier from a PvP standpoint — and what they’d like to see done about it.

This Warlords datamining update is cross-posted on Ravenholdt, the very bestest rogue class fansite in the history of ever.

A pair of new Warlords of Draenor beta builds — 18967 and 18973, for those of you keeping score at home — have brought a host of tuning adjustments for the rogue class (among others). Alongside these builds, a series of tweets from technical game designer Chadd “Cobra-thon” Nervig clarified, and explained some of the reasoning behind, several of the changes.

Let’s recap, shall we?

[NOTE: When this was posted on Ravenholdt, Celestalon replied via Twitter to state that some of the adjustments listed below are already due to be changed in an upcoming beta build. Tuning is fast, furious and fluid in these last couple of weeks before Patch 6.0.2 launches.]

Assassination’s damage appears to have been adjusted upward. Most of its key abilities have gotten roughly 5% stronger since last week, if the datamining is accurate:

  • Mutilate deals 210% weapon damage, up from 200%.
  • Dispatch deals 330% weapon damage, up from 315%.
  • The random-damage component of Venemous Wounds deals damage equivalent to 33.6% of our attack power stat, up from 32%.
  • Envenom damage has been boosted by 5%.

There is one downward shift that affects Assassination: Rupture’s damage has taken an 18% hit.

Combat’s damage appears to have been nudged downward, if the datamining is accurate:

  • Eviscerate’s damage has been reduced by about 18%.
  • Blade Flurry’s damage has been reduced by 25%; it copies 30% of our damage onto nearby targets, down from 40%.
  • Ambush’s damage has been reduced by roughly 18%; it deals 245% weapon damage, down from 300%.

These changes come one week after substantial buffs to Sinister Strike and Revealing Strike; taken together, we’re seeing a notable shift in the proportion of Combat’s overall damage that comes from combo point builders vs. finishers.

On Twitter, incidentally, Celestalon confirmed that the Eviscerate change is meant to bring Combat’s overall damage more in line with their goals, and noted that the Blade Flurry change was intended.

Subtlety’s damage also appears to have been reduced (again), if the datablah is bloo:

  • Last week’s buff to Backstab has been reverted, and then some: It’s now at 145% weapon damage, down from 175% — and also down from 156%, where it had been prior to *last* week’s changes.
  • As noted above, Ambush’s damage has been reduced by about 18%.
  • Also as noted above, Eviscerate damage has been reduced by 18% as well.
  • Also-also as noted (further) above, it looks like Rupture damage may have gotten an 18% cut. But I’m less confident about this one without direct beta testing or a Blizzfolk statement to confirm it, though obviously the number would be consistent with other cuts.

On Twitter, Celestalon affirmed that heavy slashes to Subtlety were intended; according to him, the spec was performing 15% better than the rest of the pack (except for feral druids, which he said had been similarly overpowered and were also toned downward in this week’s beta builds).

Finally, one all-spec change: Crimson Tempest has been… buffed? We think? Datamining seemed to indicate that the ability had taken an 18% damage reduction, but Celestalon stated that the ability was actually having its up-front and DoT damage *increased* by 50%. Maybe an erroneous tooltip change, given how many other rogue abilities had been chopped by 18% at the same time?

Regardless, if the datamined changes to all three specs are accurate, then the overall adjustments to DPS would be as follows, per Fierydemise:

Keep in mind that regardless of the impact of these particular beta builds, all of these adjustments are part of the designers’ ongoing effort to pull various levers in order to get the performance of all specs and classes within whatever their target range is. Although I often refer to these tweaks as “buffs” and “nerfs,” it’s probably better not to think of them precisely that way, given that balance has to be completely redone in the switch from Mists to Warlords. As with every expansion, the scales are being reset.

Quick closing note: Celestalon also tweeted quite a bit about Death From Above this evening, responding to Fierydemise’s blog post from earlier in the week. The easiest way to see the collection of these — and all of Celestalon’s rogue-related tweets — is to check out @Ravenholdt’s favorites list, which we update whenever we spot a new class-relevant tweet from a member of Blizzard’s WoW team.

Oh, hey everybody. I’ve been away for quite a while (real life can be so rudely demanding some summers), so I’ve missed a whole mess of important Warlords-related class updates. Since I had prided myself on this blog serving as a kind of catalog/archive of these changes, and since I’ve got more than a tiny bit of obsessive-compulsiveness in me, it will bother me forever that there’s a gap in the timeline.

But the show, as they say, must blah blah blah donut.

(Note: I’m cross-posting this entry on Ravenholdt — which, if you don’t know about yet, you should bookmark, assuming people even still bookmark things anymore.)

Tonight’s new Warlords of Draenor datamining (build 18927) includes five apparent rogue spell changes. All are significant adjustments to the amount of damage caused by some of Combat and Subtlety’s core key abilities:

  • Revealing Strike (Combat) now appears to deal 120% weapon damage, way up from the previous 75%.
  • Sinister Strike (Combat, mostly) now appears to deal 160% weapon damage, up from 100%.
  • Combat’s mastery, Main Gauche, now appears to deal 140% of off-hand weapon damage, way down from 225%.
  • Backstab (Subtlety) now appears to deal 175% weapon damage, up from 156%.
  • Hemorrhage (Subtlety) now appears to deal 40% weapon damage, way down from 78%. (Its damage-over-time component appears unchanged.)

I won’t get too deep into analysis here, mostly because I’m not intellectually equipped to do so, but the Combat changes appear largely intended to address 1) oft-expressed concerns that the spec’s passive damage has been way out of proportion to its active damage and 2) more recently expressed concerns that Main Gauche was so disproportionately powerful that Combat could potentially start preferring a fast main-hand/slow off-hand weapon combo, which would of course be the most insane form of insanity known to insaneness. By tossing a blanket on Main Gauche and turning the knob up on our combo point generators, the designers are likely looking to resolve both of these issues.

The Subtlety changes… I’m a little too out of touch with the conversation in the beta forums to infer a possible cause for this change. I could blindly guess that they’re to help ensure that Backstab is heavily preferred over Hemorrhage, but unless this reflects only part of the story with rogue tuning changes, there’s an unsettling side effect:

[UPDATE: Haileaus tweeted the following possible explanation for the Subtlety adjustments.]

Meanwhile, this beta build also appears to bring the first major tuning pass on the rogue Tier 17 set bonuses — them’s the bonuses we’ll see on gear we get in the opening raid tier of Warlords. Five of the six bonuses got adjusted; here are what all six now look like, according to datamining:

  • Assassination 2-piece: Mutilate and Dispatch critical strikes restore 7 energy. (Down from 10 energy.)
  • Assassination 4-piece: Envenom refunds 1 Combo Point. (This is unchanged.)
  •  Combat 2-piece: Increases the chance for Revealing Strike to generate an extra Combo Point by 20%. (Chance is up from 10%.)
  • Combat 4-piece: Your finishing moves have a 20% chance to generate 5 combo points and cause your next Eviscerate to consume no Energy. (Chance is down from 25%.)
  • Subtlety 2-piece: When you activate Shadow Dance, you gain 60 Energy. (Previously, all abilities used during Shadow Dance cost no energy, so this may alter how we time the cooldown.)
  • Subtlety 4-piece: When Shadow Dance expires, your next finishing move refunds 5 combo points. (Previously, the CP refund extended five seconds beyond the end of Dance.)

Hope y’all will join us over in the nascent Ravenholdt forums for discussion of these changes. :)

Just when your spellbook thought it was safe to come out of your virtual desk drawer…

WHAM. Edward Scissorhands strikes again.

Yep, those gasps you heard late in the evening on June 13 were the dying breaths of seven more rogue spells (along with dozens of other additional spells that were removed across all classes), which became official with the latest update to the official Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes.

Odds are you won’t miss most of these spells very much, though: many of them were passive, and in most cases their effects will be folded into (or compensated by) other abilities.

The new edition of the Alpha notes also includes several other spell adjustments, none of which appear groundbreaking. Here’s a rundown and some half-assed analysis of the changes:

Newly Snipped — For Reals

  • Expose Armor. This much-maligned ability was made easier to use for the current Mists expansion, but still not as easy as identical armor-reduction debuffs that other classes were able to apply (e.g., warriors’ Sunder Armor; druids’ Faerie Fire). In Warlords, it will be escorted to its final resting place as part of a redesign of raid debuffs that affects all classes.The official patch notes are confusing here: They say only that Expose Armor “no longer applies Weakened Armor.” But seeing as that was literally all that Expose Armor did, the removal of EA’s ability to apply Weakened Armor basically means it doesn’t exist. (And in fact, when I log into the Alpha on my rogue, EA doesn’t currently appear in my spellbook.)
  • Master Poisoner. A passive ability that all rogues currently get at Level 64, this causes any target we’ve poisoned to take 5% additional spell damage. It’s being removed as part of the across-the-board debuff changes I mentioned above. (Lest you fear this will reduce our value in raids, read at the end of this post about how Swiftblade’s Cunning is being buffed.)
  • Shadow Walk. Unless you’re big on PvP, your most likely reaction to this will be:https://twitter.com/wavefunctionp/status/477568657787469824In the current (live) game, it’s a cooldown we get at Level 72 that we can use, once every minute, to increase the effectiveness of our stealth for 6 seconds. A number of PvP rogues (particularly those who play Subtlety) saw value in it, and it had situational use when soloing PvE content, but many were surprised it survived the first round of spellbook pruning months ago, particularly in the context of Blizzard’s desire to ratchet down the PvP “arms race” regarding crowd control and tools we could use to overcome/avoid it.

Newly Snipped — But Only Sort Of

These spell removals appear to mostly be about removing spell-name clutter, and taking advantage of what looks like the ability of WoW’s programmers to design more “if” scenarios directly into spells, instead of designing new spells that modify those spells. It’s kind of like if, instead of us having to put on roller blades in order to use them, they just sprouted naturally out of our existing shoes.

  • Blindside — kind of. Assassination rogues will still have a chance to proc a free Dispatch whenever they Mutilate. The proc just isn’t called “Blindside” anymore; it’s simply a free Dispatch. No indication about whether any other aspects of free Dispatch will change (like the amount of time you have to use it before it fades away).
  • Cut to the Chase — sorta. This is the Assassination-only, Level 60 passive ability that causes our Envenom to refresh Slice and Dice. The spell itself is going away, but the ability of Envenom to refresh SnD is staying. No word on whether it will also begin to work for rogues *below* Level 60, though that would be a nice little quality-of-life improvement for those leveling as Mut.
  • Master of Subtlety — ish. This Subtlety-only, Level 10 passive ability gives Sub rogues a 10% damage buff on abilities they use while stealthed and for 6 seconds afterward. They won’t lose that buff — it just no longer is called “Master of Subtlety.” Instead it’s baked directly into stealth for Sub rogues.
  • Safe Fall — but not really. Our glorious ability to take less fall damage than the average bear will live on — as part of Fleet Footed, the passive spell all rogues get at Level 62, which increases our movement speed by 15%.

Spell Damage Calculations Adjusted

One of the priorities for WoW’s spell designers as they work on Warlords has been trimming away some unneeded complexity in the way that spells work “under the hood.” For much of the past expansion (and then some), players have often complained of horrible lag spikes in raid situations, even when their Internet connections are stable and their ping times are low. Designers traced much of this problem to the way that a number of spells were programmed, and have since set about trying to simplify those spells where it made sense to do so.

I’m not certain about this, but we may be seeing the results of those efforts in these two June 13 changes to the official Warlords alpha notes (it’s also possible the designers simply want to tweak the way these abilities are balanced):

  • Killing Spree (Combat). At the moment, in addition to its stab-every-half-second-for-3.5-seconds schtick, KS buffs your damage by 50% while it’s active. That buff is being removed — but the ability’s damage will be rebalanced to take that into account, so the net result should basically be the same.
  • Main Gauche (Combat). Francophones rejoice — this ability will once again do exactly what its name implies! Main Gauche — which literally translates to “left hand” in French — is Combat’s Level-80 mastery. It’s a passive spell that gives main-hand attacks a chance proc an additional, free autoattack equal to 120% of a main-hand autoattack. In Warlords, this’ll be changed to deal off-hand weapon damage — in other words, for the 90% of the planet that is right-handed, “left-hand” weapon damage. (Lest you worry the switch from main-hand to off-hand damage is a nerf, the patch notes state that the damage will be buffed to compensate.)This change is potentially interesting, because depending on how it’s balanced, it could tilt the very delicate balance between daggers and non-daggers as off-hand weapons for Combat rogues. Right now, the two weapon types are virtually identical in terms of their DPS potential (though slow weapons come out on top at very high gear levels). The way this change looks at the moment, it might make slow weapons feel required for Combat, due to the greater damage they’d cause when Main Gauche procs. Worth keeping an eye on as the Alpha progresses to see what the designers choose to do here.

And Then There’s Maude

Rounding out the rogue-specific adjustments in the June 13 update to the official WoD Alpha patch notes are these two bits:

  • Venomous Wounds no longer triggers from Garrote. This will finally put to rest the mostly irrelevant debate over whether a raiding Assassination rogue should open on the boss with Garrote or Ambush. (The answer, by the way, is neither: Mutilate’s better than Ambush, but only by a teeny bit.) The passive, Level-50 ability, which is what makes Assassination’s bleeds actually worth using (by randomly dealing additional damage and refunding energy when it procs), will only work with Rupture in WoD.
  • Swiftblade’s Cunning now also grants 5% Multistrike. This enhancement to our raid buff — in Warlords, Swiftblade will increase our new multistrike stat by 5% for us and our fellow party/raid members — appears intended to offset the loss of the Master Poisoner spell I mentioned way up near the top of this bloggy post. (Note that in the current live game, Swiftblade increases melee/ranged attack speed by 10% for our fellow party/raid members. That’s being changed in Warlords to buff haste instead — which, incidentally, means a buff to our energy regeneration rate in parties/raids as well.)

Inscrutable headlines ftw!

This is what happens when I put off updates for too long: THINGS. SO MANY OF THE THINGS.

A gaggle of notable rogue players are now running around willy-nilly in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and learning all sorts of odds and ends about how our class appears to be playing so far. A couple of them — Rzn and Haileaus — are even streaming their Alpha bits all over the Twitchesphere. But for the purposes of this post, I will now pretend that this momentous occasion has not yet occurred, so that we can focus here on the same stuff we focused on in my earlier updates: “official” statements, clarifications on Twitter and datamining.

I realize this is all getting awfully unwieldy: Five separate update posts in addition to my initial rundown of class changes does not make for a neat, pretty picture. At the moment, the best all-in-one recap by far is over at Wowhead, where Perculia and Olivia Grace have teamed up to take most of the bits and pieces we’ve learned about Warlords rogues and tie them up into a neat package.

If you just want a look at what we’ve learned in the past two weeks (not including player observations from within the Alpha), here’s what went down specifically in relation to rogues in Warlords:

Datamining Teases Possible Raid Set Bonuses

Although we’ve been warned by WoW’s designers not to take these remotely seriously, the first datamined glimpse of possible set bonuses for Tier 17 raid gear and PvP gear — spotted by Wowhead and MMO-Champion on June 10 — range from dull (Combat/Subtlety two-piece) to interesting (Subtlety four-piece) and perplexing-because-it’s-likely-a-typo (Assassination’s two-piece appears to buff a hunter ability, which is about as insulting as you can get.)

Quoting Wowhead — and again, remember, this is datamining that WoW’s designers have warned us are almost entirely just placeholders right now:

No Assassination PvE four-piece bonus appears to have been datamined.

Spec “Attunements” Datamined

Another noteworthy rogue-specific tidbit from the June 10 datamining (the rest of which appear to mostly be tooltip corrections, typos and in-progress adjustments that aren’t worth trying to analyze) is this set of “Attunements” that passively boost the value of one of our secondary stats when we hit Level 90.

Again quoting Wowhead, our Attunements currently appear to be:

  • Mastery Attunement [Assassination]: You gain 5% more of the Mastery stat from all sources.
  • Haste Attunement [Combat]: You gain 5% more of the Haste stat from all sources.
  • Multistrike Attunement [Subtlety]: You gain 5% more of the Multistrike stat from all sources.

Don’t be surprised to see these change significantly as the WoD Alpha (and Beta) progresses. Something feels odd about a passive buff being granted to a single secondary stat, which feels like it would inherently increase that stat’s value relative to the others — something that goes directly against designers’ repeatedly stated goal for Warlords that they wished to keep secondary stats close to one another in value.

There has also been no official comment regarding whether we need to have first obtained a Shadowforge Key in order to unlock these attunements. (HYUK!)

On Combat Swapping Autoattack Buffs

In the last update, I noted that the Ambidexterity passive was being removed from Combat, which — as stated within the official patch notes — “was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks.” Which is a lovely sentiment, but one that gets muddied a bit given that Combat is also getting a perk called Improved Dual Wield, which removes the 19% reduced hit chance we suffer by default for using a pair of one-handed weapons — and thus increases our autoattack damage. Rogue theorycrafter Fierydemise took to Twitter to call attention to this; technical game designer Chadd “Celtictron” Nervig parried the debate.

Sap Stays Sappy

PvP honcho Brian “Holinka” Holinka affirms that, despite upcoming adjustments to other forms of crowd control, Sap’s duration is not likely to change.

Band-Aids vs. Knives

Holinka also rebuffed a request to combine Slice and Dice with Recuperate, saying it’s a good choice to force players to choose between offense and defense. (Nevermind Leeching Poison. Speaking of which…)

Versatility Won’t Uber-Boost Leeching Poison

Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas noted that Versatility, the newly announced secondary stat that will enhance our healing and damage absorption in addition to our damage output, won’t allow Leeching Poison to “double dip.” (Because Leeching is a self-heal that is based off of the amount of damage we deal, it could theoretically benefit from Versatility twice unless the designers do something to stop it — which they apparently plan to do.)

Main Gauche Still Combat’s Main Man

Even though the Multistrike stat will give our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage, Nervig says the designers have no plans to change Combat’s mastery, Main Gauche — which also gives some of our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage. He notes that they’re open to revisiting the issue, however.

Pre-Potting Won’t Break Stealth

Nervig gave a straightforward answer to a request that drinking a potion would no longer break a rogue’s stealth: “Yes.”

Updated Warlords of Draenor alpha notes, a new slew of datamined spell changes, a gaggle of designer tweets: Gee golly, it’s almost enough to make a person think there’s actually something substantial happening in WoW!

Ah, but no, it’s just another week in virtual purgatory.

Here is what the latest limbo period brought us in the World of Rouge that was mildly distinct from the limbo period before it.

Assassination: All About the Knifejamins

The initial design plan was: Let’s give folks who want to play Assassination, but who don’t have daggers, a chance to still play the spec using other types of pointy things (i.e., fist weapons and swords). But as of the May 23 update to the official alpha patch notes, that plan has been… deplanned. (Sorry for that link; couldn’t resist.)

Yep, all of the bits and pieces that were going to make fists and swords kinda-sorta viable for Mut rogues are gone. The different damage coefficients for Dispatch and Mutilate depending on weapon type, Assassin’s Resolve no longer requiring daggers — all back to the way they were. By which I mean, the way they are now, in Mists.

Here’s why this reversion doesn’t suck:

The primary motivation behind all of the plans to loosen weapon requirements centered around a long-standing issue for rogue players: We have to wield two weapons, and it can often feel hard — heck, sometimes downright unpossible — to get the weapons we need, particularly since there are very few ways to get decent weaponry outside of random-chance boss loot. The tweet above from WoW technical game designer Chadd “Cellartron” Nervig strongly suggests they’ve got a new idea for how to make sure we don’t suffer from Neverdrop, an affliction that I’m this close to asking Sarah McLachlan to write a song about so we can start an aid foundation.

Combat: Smack Harder, Feel Better

It’s been a common refrain, for many moons now, that rogues are heavily reliant on “passive” forms of damage. The definition of “passive” changes a bit depending on who you ask, but there’s pretty wholesale agreement that our autoattack damage — which, as Combat, can easily account for 10%-15% of our damage in a raid fight without even taking into account additional bits like Deadly Poison procs (which adds another 10%+) or the Shadow Blades cooldown (another ~10%) — is just too darn-tootin’ high. That makes the designers feel compelled to reduce the power of our actual button-press abilities (Sinister Strike, Eviscerate, etc.) to compensate.

Behold:

Worth noting here is the removal of Ambidexterity. This was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks for Combat Rogues. We’ve increased the damage of their active abilities to compensate and make them more rewarding.

That’s from the latest iteration of the official patch notes. Ambidexterity currently increases Combat rogues’ offhand weapon damage by 75%. By removing it, the proportion of our damage that comes from offhand autoattacks is likely to drop from 10%-15% to something more like 2%-5% — and from the sounds of it, all of that “lost” damage will be funneled into our push-this-button-and-hurt-something-immediately abilities. (The perk formerly named “Improved Ambidexterity” will now be called “Improved Dual Wield”; it will still eliminate the 19% off-hand hit chance penalty.)  Will it be enough to really feel a difference? Only playtesting will be able to tell us for certain.

Combat: If You Prick Them, They Will Bleed

The class design team introduced changes for Warlords that are meant to develop a greater sense of distinctness for each of our three specs. One of their big plans for Combat rogues was to make it so that, at Level 100, *all* damage is instant. No bleeds, no ticking poisons: Everything that would normally deal damage over time would instead dish all of it out immediately.

It’s a cool idea, but not without downsides. For instance, PvP players were quick to point out that removing all damage-over-time spells from Combat would leave those rogues completely unable to prevent nearby enemies in stealth from… you know, being stealthed.

It looks like the designers agreed. Nervig confirmed that, in a reversal, Crimson Tempest will once again trigger a bleed, just as it does in the live game. Nervig’s statement supports datamining that saw the tooltip for the Combat-only leveling perk Empowered Crimson Tempest change from “Crimson Tempest no longer deals any periodic damage, and instead deals 240% increased initial damage,” to, “Increases the duration of Crimson Tempest’s bleed by 50%.” I’ll leave it to rogues smarter than I to determine whether these changes are enough to make CT a more desirable finisher than an unlimited-target Eviscerate with Blade Flurry on.

Bullets

And now, the miscellany:

  • So many datamined changes; so little takeaway: A new datamined Warlords alpha build generated a flurry of knee-jerk complaints about widespread nerfs, due to what appeared to be attack-power-multiplier reductions for a whole slew of rogue abilities. The thing is: You can’t nerf what doesn’t exist yet, and we’re not even at a publicly available alpha. The designers have a goal in mind when it comes to how different classes, and different abilities, will stack up against each other in Warlords. So it’s quite literally pointless to compare “then” numbers vs. “now” numbers, because the entire equation is changing. (It also wasn’t just rogues affected by these changes.)
  • Rupture multi-DoT-ting: Nervig affirmed that the way Assassination rogues currently fight multiple enemies (i.e., they keep Rupture rolling on several targets at once, in order to keep energy flowing in from Venemous Wounds) is not the strategy they had in mind for the spec. The design team wants to change this for Warlords.
  • Rupture big. Rupture hurt. Also in bleeding news, Nervig acknowledged that a design goal is to give Rupture a big damage boost in the upcoming expansion — but that finding the right balance for it is proving tricky.
  • Death From Above clarifications: There’s been a lot of skepticism expressed by players that we’ll have little reason to choose the Level 100 talent Death From Above over the other two options in that tier, LemonVenom Zest and Shadow Reflection. Nervig tweeted that DFA would be made more attractive by making it end with an Envenom/Eviscerate that is 50% more powerful than using En/Ev by itself would be.
  • Show me the poisons! One particular tweeter has been nudging designers for months now about giving rogues a way to display poison effects on their weapons. The response, consistently: A fine idea, but not on the priority list.

For a complete rundown of all upcoming rogue-related Warlords changes, there’s no better place on the Web to turn than Wowhead’s compendium. I know I sound like a cheesy advertisement saying that, but it’s an amazing resource. Use it. :)

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