Archive for the ‘Blizzard Tweets’ Category

Oddly, the *least* interesting news of the week for rogues was the release of the first update to the official Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes on April 18. There were no rogue-specific changes in the notes that we hadn’t already known about. This is kind of odd, since we’ve seen datamining *and* Blizzfolk tweets that suggest some pretty noteworthy tweaks have already been made.

Here are the new odds and ends we *have* learned over the past several days, along with a smidge of analysis from y’all’s truly. (I’ll create a single home for the up-to-datest info when I have the chance; right now I’m posting updates sequentially, so some of the stuff in my huge, initial alpha notes post is no longer true.)

Combat AoE: The Changes Are Changing

The initial alpha notes and datamined info included a few bits that all but screamed, “We want Fan of Knives and Crimson Tempest to be part of the Combat spec’s arsenal.” Er, no, sorry, I meant: That all but screamed, “WE WANT FAN OF KNIVES AND CRIMSON TEMPEST TO BE PART OF THE COMBAT SPEC’S ARSENAL!”

The initial batch of leveling perks — which we’ll earn randomly on our way from levels 91 to 99, with each spec getting a different set of perks — included benefits for Combat that made FoK cost less energy and turned CT into a powerful instant-damage finisher instead of a smack-and-bleed.

As was pointed out, though, the FoK energy reduction (from 35 to 25) felt unlikely to be enough on its own to make a difference. The designers apparently agreed — but rather than find a way to make FoK more desirable, they appear to have scrapped the whole idea and buffed Blade Flurry instead.

As of the latest Warlords alpha datamining from Wowhead and MMO-Champion on April 16:

  • Fan of Knives is no longer even in the spellbook for a Combat rogue — it’s labelled as Assassination and Subtlety only.
  • The Combat-only leveling perk that had reduced FoK’s energy cost now does something completely different: It removes the target cap from Blade Flurry entirely.
  • In addition, technical game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig (whose last name I always feel the urge to spell “Nervigg”) tweeted that Blade Flurry would be able to spread both lethal and non-lethal poisons in Warlords.

Now, yes, this sounds exciting and powerful, it does appear to be an all-around buff to BF, and it’ll also make Combat burst damage look very pretty in some very specific situations. But in regards to the target cap specifically, keep in mind that Blade Flurry currently has a range of just 8 yards (just like FoK), and in the present game we don’t often see that many enemies bunched up together. Certainly not in PvP, and although it happens more often in PvE, it’s usually not in critically important situations (unless we’re trying to, say, solo an achievement).

Meanwhile, it leaves behind an unresolved issue with Crimson Tempest. As things currently stand, Crimson Tempest for Combat uses combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage (but doesn’t apply a bleed) to all nearby enemies. If that description sounds familiar to you, it’s because using Eviscerate with Blade Flurry on will do exactly the same thing: use combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage to all nearby enemies.

We know that BF will spread poisons, so regardless of whether CT does the same in Warlords, there’s an obvious question right now regarding how they plan to make choosing between these two AoE finishers more interesting than consulting a guide that tells you which one hits harder.

Other Developments

  • The much-maligned Subtlety-only “Enhanced Premeditation” perk has been scrapped (for now, at least), though it is still showing up in datamining. But the designers still plan to find a way to make Premed into a passive ability without actually making it worse. (As a reminder, the initial plan was to make Ambush and Garrote automatically generate two extra combo points when used from stealth — but *not* when Shadow Dance is active.)

As I mentioned earlier, the new version of the official alpha patch notes don’t include anything we didn’t already know about rogues. The following changes had been previously announced:

  • A note was added to mention that combo points would essentially stack on the rogue — the exact phrasing is “shared across all targets,” which suggests the underlying tech isn’t as simple as “CPs on the rogue,” but barring any bugs or quirks, the effect we experience should be the same.
  • Also now in the notes is the Smoke Bomb nerf: It’ll reduce incoming damage within the area of effect by 10%, down from 20%, to bring it in line with other DPS classes’ defensive raid cooldowns. Celestalon also engaged in some back-and-forth on Twitter to justify the nerf and state that rogues, as well as other DPSers, had many other ways to contribute to raid utility.

Designers Conversate

  • In Twitterland, Celestalon confirmed that a gnome Assassination rogue with Glyph of Energy active and Venom Zest talented would have 163 maximum energy instead of 100.
  • Will its heavy reliance on a newly buffed Deep Insight make Combat almost useless in PvP, especially considering it was already looking dicey thanks to the removal of its damage-over-time spells? Celestalon says they’ll keep an eye on it.
  • Why are efforts being made to reduce Windwalker monk spamminess, yet Combat rogues will still have a half-second global cooldown during Adrenaline Rush? Celestalon suggests uberspam is OK for “temporary effects.” (Personally, I wonder just how “temporary” AdRush will be in Warlords given how Restless Blades and the new cooldown-reduction stat greatly increase the frequency with which we can use it.)
  • The Redirect spell still appears on the Warlords alpha even though it’ll be unnecessary. Lead class designer Kris Zierhut confirmed in an interview with Wowhead at PAX East that it’s definitely going away. (As a person who apparently mains a Feral druid, he also bonded with Wowhead’s content chief Perculia — who mains a rogue — over the impending change to essentially have CPs stack on the player.)

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With all due respect to the dearly departed WoW Insider hunter column. ;)

Following the initial dump of the Warlords of Draenor alpha novel last week, WoW technical game designer and celery-gnawing glitter maniac Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig took to the twitwaves, as he is oft wont to do. And the interviewed-by-Olivia-Grace-waves, as he is not oft wont to do. And the live-interview-on-major-WoW-fansite-shows-waves, as he has never before been wont to do.

Across all of these various and sundry forms of interaction, Nervig answered a ridiculously large number of questions from players seeking clarifications and further info on the changes we have in store for us in Warlords.

Meanwhile, Warlords datamining began as the first alpha client hit public test servers, bringing with it brand-new waves of speculation and misinformation — as well as some intriguing glimpses of what may yet to come to pass for we wily ones.

So. To supplement my post last week summarizing (nearly) all of the rogue info in the first alpha novel – a masterfully organized, but depressingly ugly and text-heavy, tour de force of bullet points and explanations — I will now unceremoniously dump a scattershot list of (nearly) all the rogue-relevant odds and ends we learned over the past several days.
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The first major official blog entry in the run-up to Warlords of Draenor was posted this evening, and if you were looking for specifics on race and class changes, you probably started reaching for the condolence booze not long after you finished reading.

But then you saw what Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig was doing over on his Twitter feed immediately following the blog’s appearance. And you put the bottle back in the cabinet.

Below is each of the directly rogue-related post-blog tweets from Celestalon or PvP chief Brian Holinka, who also fielded questions for a while tonight. (I’m leaving out stuff on changes to racial bonus and general crowd-control changes for now, though they have obvious ramifications for rogue spells. You can read an excellent runthrough of all the tweets over at Wowhead.) I’ll try to follow up with a more fleshed-out post tomorrow or over the weekend, but sadly I cannot promise I’ll be able to!

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(UPDATE 2/9: I’ve added a full “transcript” of the tweets I’m reporting on within this post down at the bottom. It’s loooong.)

Earlier this week, WoW Technical Game Designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig sidled up to his Twitter account and handed us a feedbag filled with bite-sized bits of information regarding Shadow Reflection (SR), one of the three new talents slated to make up the Level 100 rogue tier. For now, I’m gonna just stuff my face into that bag, gobble up all the details and spit them out here. Barring more important news worth covering, I’ll follow up on WoW Insider next week with an Encrypted Text column that provides a more in-depth summary and talks about what’s spiffy and not-so-spiffy about what they seem to have planned.

The Tooltip

As far as I can tell, the talent is still being designed to match the tooltip we saw at BlizzCon last fall:

20 yd range
Instant, 2 min cooldown
Summon a shadow of yourself on the target that will watch you and memorize your ability usage for the next 8 sec. After this time, it will mimic the memorized abilities on its target over the next 8 sec.

Here’s the new stuff Celestalon tweeted about SR this week:

The Gist

  • SR has been a huge challenge for the design team to make work properly, but he’s confident they’ll get it right.
  • This’ll definitely be a skill-testing talent: It will be hard to use optimally, but will have “pretty crazy potential” when timed well.
  • C-talon is especially eager to see it used in PvP, where it could allow a rogue to basically use crowd control (CC) and burst at the same time.

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After a series of vacations and international trippin’, Ghostcrawler returned to his regularly scheduled Twittercast this week, addressing questions and feedback on a wide range of WoW gameplay topics. On the rogue front, he responded to lamentations that the rogue class is being ignored, gave one of his most detailed hints yet about how he’d like to make our specs more different, and addressed concerns about Combat rogues in end-game PvE.

“Pretty Happy With Rogues”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this statement cause some garment-rending; it can easily be interpreted as flippant or dismissive. But keep in mind the many, many, many things Ghostcrawler has said recently about rogue class issues, including this exchange last night:

[NOTE 8/7/13: Since this initial exchange, GC has had some additional back-and-forth on Twittsville; I'll write a new blog post about it soon and link it from here, but in the meantime you can see the full "thread" over on my rogue tweet page.]

What this amounts to is:

  • As Blizzfolk have stated many times (most famously last summer, when GC called rogues the “best designed class”), they like the way our resource system works (earn combo points with small things that use energy, spend them on bigger things that use less energy); that’s not on the table for an overhaul, and they’ve got no plans to make each spec “work” differently in that respect.
  • As Blizzfolk have also stated many times during Mists, they understand — and agree with — the common complaint that specs have become too similar, and they plan to address it. Just not in the middle of an expansion, since that would likely confuse the thousands upon thousands of rogue players who may not be thrilled to see their gameplay suddenly turned upside-down.
  • Yes, Blizzfolk are actually listening, and yes, they actually care, and yes, they actually discuss and debate about these issues. There just isn’t necessarily a simple or obvious solution to the problem, no matter how many of us may believe we personally know exactly what the simple, obvious solution is.

Combat Spec in 5.4: We’re Not Done Yet

(The “ST” in that tweet stands for “single target,” not “Shuriken Toss,” in case you were confused. :) )

This question, and GC’s response, pretty nicely encapsulate the conversation many raiding rogues have been having about how our three specs have performed throughout most of this expansion. Assassination has shined basically from the moment Mists launched; it’s pretty consistently been the top-performing melee DPS spec, and on many fights it’s been right up there with the top specs overall.

By comparison, Combat and Subtlety have both languished in end-game obscurity. Combat had its moment in the sun on the first raid fight of the expansion (Stone Guard), where its two-target cleave absolutely blew all other DPS out of the water — so much so that the designers realized it was finally time to change the way the ability worked. So they did. Since then, its special niche largely removed, the spec has been selected by relatively few high-end raiders.

Subtlety, meanwhile, perennially suffers from two main issues in raids: One, the spec has the widest “skill gap” — meaning the difference between playing it well and playing it poorly is larger than for the other two specs. And two, the positional requirement of Backstab, which two prominent PvE rogues (Fierydemise, Haileaus) recently blogged about.

With the tuning phase of the Patch 5.4 PTR likely to begin within the next few weeks, we should start to see theorycrafters picking apart the numbers and calculating how competitive Combat and Subtlety will be, on paper, to King Mut in the upcoming raid tier. There are a lot of variables at play here: DPS potential isn’t just about simulations, it’s also about how our funky new Tier 16 set bonuses will work, and about our wacky new trinkets, and about how many of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid fights are designed in a way that’s more “friendly” to one spec than another. So don’t expect any quick or easy verdicts.

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Bit of an off-the-cuff post here, apologies if I get rambly.

Newly minted Blizz Community Manager Lore has been dipping into various conversations in the official WoW PTR Discussion forum over the past couple of weeks. He’s focused on addressing major class-specific concerns related to Patch 5.4. He’s talked about Shadow priests, warlocks, Holy paladins, Windwalker monks and hunters, among others — and now Combat rogues have gotten their turn.

Posting in a brief thread filled with some really nice feedback from players on Combat rogues in Patch 5.4, Lore wrote:

Combat is supposed to feel faster-paced than the other specs, but we agree that it’s gotten a bit TOO spammy, particularly where the Tier 15 set bonus is concerned. We don’t have any solid info on any changes we might make yet, but we definitely see the concern and are discussing it.

The challenge we always face when balancing between different specs that perform the same role is that, even if the benefits are relatively small, some players will feel “required” to play whichever is “best”. Even in cases where each spec has a clearly defined niche that they excel at, some players still feel like they should change specs from fight to fight to match each encounter’s mechanics.

We’re not sure it’s even possible to ever balance things out completely perfectly so that all specs are equal in all areas, but we do our best to at least minimize the differences. It’s far too early to guess at which specs will be “best” once 5.4 launches, but our goal is to allow you to play whichever you enjoy the most without feeling like you’re making a huge sacrifice.

This is essentially a long-winded way of saying, “The developers have heard your complaints, they understand and agree with them, and they’d really like to do something about them.” There’s no resolution promised here, but that wasn’t the point of the post:

Lore really nicely explains in his post just how dastardly a conundrum this is. Rogue specs are a microcosm of WoW classes/roles in general: There is a perpetual tug of war, particularly within the massive playerbase, between the desire for all roles/specs to be similarly valuable on all raid fights and the desire for all roles/specs to have clearly defined differences in their usefulness and style.

Combat arguably lost its “niche” back in Patch 5.2, after the spec’s long-standing strength on two-target fights became stunningly obvious on Stone Guard in Mogu’shan Vaults, where Combat blew all other DPS specs out of the water. Blade Flurry got a bit of a redesign as a result — instead of copying 100% damage to one target, it now copies 40% damage to up to four nearby targets — and Combat has hardly been seen or heard from in higher-end raiding since then.

This has led to a fair number of calls for some kind of niche to find its way back into the spec (and ditto for Subtlety), or at least for more raid fights to be designed that favored (or at least stopped punishing) Combat’s mechanics. While I get the allure of that idea, I’ve never felt quite comfortable with it for exactly the reason Lore stated: Rogues are usually a black-or-white class in raids. They’re there to perform a specific role (usually maximizing DPS), and if one spec performs that role even slightly better than the others, it will be widely regarded as the “go-to” spec even if the difference is small.

I don’t think it’s realistic or wise to expect the playerbase to master all three specs and then feel pressured by our playerbase’s culture to switch from one to the next depending on which is viewed as the strongest. That may actually be worse than the current situation, in which Assassination is largely viewed as the only spec worth bothering with right now in a raid environment (even though that’s actually not true — all specs are fine to use even for progression raid groups, unless you’re seriously hardcore).

I’m similarly wary of suggestions that heroic raids in particular should be tuned to “require” that a pure DPS class use different specs on some fights in order to be successful in its role. Some folks may find that fun, sure. But that sounds like a fight design nightmare to me, not to mention a very thin wire to attempt to walk across (they’d have to ensure the same niche value for every other underplayed spec in the game, not just rogue specs) with very little gamewide benefit to be gained from it.

In other words, this shit’s hard. I don’t deny that it feels crummy to feel strongarmed into playing a single spec throughout an expansion, particularly if it’s a spec you don’t especially enjoy playing. That’s a good recipe for burnout. But I don’t see any simple alternatives that avoid creating the same problem in different ways, or that avoid making already-similar specs into an even more poorly defined melting pot of gooey rogue gameplay.

I also suspect we’re stuck with this reality until at least the next expansion. We’ll see some tuning changes and maybe some mechanic adjustments in an attempt to convince players that it’s not some kind of cardinal sin to go Combat or Subtlety in the new raid. But ultimately, there *will* be a determination made by theorycrafters and raid strategists as to which spec is “best” to use on a particular fight (or all fights), and players will flock — many of them kicking and screaming — to that spec regardless of the margin by which it’s deemed to be superior.

Man. I really need to start adding more images to these posts.

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As I’ve started writing these TWIRBS up more regularly, I’m surprised to see just how much worthwhile stuff is written/said/noted about rogues even during weeks like the one we just had, where basically nothing of note actually happened with the class.

PvPers Go Hmm

Meanwhile, on the Patch 5.4 PTR

  • NEW CLASS CHANGES: A new PTR build was datamined, and fansites spotted a whooole mess of changes — except to rogues. :) The only rogue-specific adjustment was to the tooltip of our Tier 16 raid set bonus (instead of “When you generate a combo point from Revealing Strike, Honor Amongst Thieves, or Seal Fate,” it now reads “When you generate a combo point from Revealing Strike’s effect, Honor Among Thieves, or Seal Fate). I’m relatively sure isn’t actually a change — I think it’s meant just to clarify the tooltip. (I also think the tweak didn’t clarify it very well at all. If they’re trying to say the bonus will proc whenever we use a combo point-generating ability on our target while the Revealing Strike debuff is active… well, why not say that? :) )
  • NEW SHINIES: So, like I said, nothing new for rogues specifically. But we did get our first glimpse of how our legendary(!) cloaks will work (see the datamine for more), and we also got a first look at five interesting DPS trinkets that will drop in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. I mention them briefly in this post over on Elitist Jerks, but I think I’ll do a blog entry about them as soon as our theorycrafting geniuses have had a chance to take a closer look. (In the meantime, you can look in on a pretty decent discussion that unfolded in the WoW rogue forum about the trinkets.)

PvE Theory-Ish Stuff

  • TIER 16: Last week’s WoW Insider column analyzes the upcoming Tier 16 set bonuses, and explores why Blizzard may have chosen the specific types of bonuses they have.

The Legendary Quest Chain

Fun Stuff

  • FAN FICTION: The Godmother returns with another chapter of her new tale about a dwarf hunter who has been through hell and back again (as all of our characters have, in terms of game lore). A rogue is one of the key characters in this wonderfully written story. (To be fair, I should disclose some bias: I’ve been helping a bit with getting these chapters ready for prime time. But I wouldn’t be doing so if I didn’t think it was great stuff to begin with. And I don’t even like WoW fan fiction!)

And that’s the week in rogueball. Don’t forget to stop in at the newly renamed Tweets From the Shadows page to see the latest twitterings from Blizzfolk on rogue-related subjects.

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What happens when passionate rogue players find themselves in a lull between patches with nothing much to talk about? Overanalysis. :)

As often as WoW developers warn that we shouldn’t put too much stock in numbers when it’s very early in a PTR, people are inevitably gonna do exactly that — especially when no additional information has been provided and there isn’t a whole lot else for us to obsess over. We’ve seen extensive number-crunching on our Tier 16 raid set bonuses, for instance, even though we’ve been told they’re “very place holder” at the moment.

And why not? Conjecture and theorycrafting can be fun and even downright helpful.

Until it gets stressful and stops being helpful. Which is what’s begun to happen with Killing Spree on the Patch 5.4 PTR.

In PvP, there’s some hubbub at the moment over how strong Killing Spree appears to be against a single target on the PTR. Yep, you heard me: Killing Spree, one of the signature DPS cooldowns used by Combat rogues. Combat rogues. In PvP. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

This video from Conclusion (one of a few that folks have posted) illustrates the issue:

 

The cries of alarm have been numerous enough that Blizzfolk have taken both to Twitter and to the official forums to encourage people not to freak out. This is from PvP chief Brian Holinka a couple of weeks ago:

 

And this is from newly minted Blizz Community Manager Lore earlier today:

Looks balanced to me.

I kid. We generally wait until later in the PTR cycle (once we’ve gotten all the underlying mechanics where we want them) to start tuning numbers. I wouldn’t be too concerned at this stage.

I understand the consternation here. There’s concern that this won’t be noticed; that “place holder” numbers will be allowed to stay in place and that we’ll accidentally launch with something that’s clearly imbalanced. I believe it’s solidly a good thing that players are testing this stuff out now and are raising red flags where they see issues.

But it’s now abundantly clear that WoW’s developers are aware of these issues. Players have already ensured that. There’s no need to continually beat the panic drum; Blizzard can’t get any more aware of the complaints, and the devs are literally not going to do anything about it until they begin actual balance/damage adjustments later on in the PTR.

Once we see those tuning adjustments begin — if they go on for a week or so and we don’t see any modifications in places that we feel clearly need attention — sure, go ahead and raise the issue again, along with cogent explanations for why tuning adjustments feel necessary.

In the meantime? Take a breath. Take two, even. It’s OK. Move on to another topic for a while. Perhaps consider joining me in a little game of fake rogue patch notes?

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Let’s take a quick break from the Patch 5.4 madness for this important little nugget from WoW’s PvP mastermind.

These tweets refer to the stealth issues folks have been reporting since Patch 5.3 hit. We got a confirmation from Holinka last week that the issue is related to zoning into a new area. While we wait for a permanent (fingers crossed) fix to the problem, Holinka’s advice above should provide a handy workaround.

At least, a handy workaround if you’re in battlegrounds or arenas. If you’re out in the world on a PvP realm — or if, say, you’re about to start a Challenge-mode dungeon in which you need to use Shroud early — you may want to periodically hit your stealth button in order to “keep it fresh,” since the same problem may be occurring whenever we pop into or out of cross-realm zones, instances, etc. (I have no confirmation of this at all; it’s just a hypothesis.)

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Think obvious bugs in WoW — like, say, the fact that stealth has been behaving oddly since Patch 5.3 launched — should be easy to find and fix? Take a look at this:

Firstly: Man, I duno who that Kumquat loser thinks he is, but he sure made a lot of stupid assumptions about stealth bugs in the new patch.

Secondly: Holy sleuthing, Batman! The new problems people have been experiencing with stealth recently appear to be linked to zoning into a new area? How many of you would have guessed *that* was the cause of a bug like Shroud of Concealment taking three seconds before it actually concealed a rogue’s party members?

I’m getting weirdly nerd-giddy over this, I realize. But keep in mind that the entire reason I started this blog is because I enjoy learning about virtually everything there is to know about what’s going on with our class. Getting to the bottom of what causes certain problems to occur — and how to fix those problems — fascinates me.

This is a potent reminder that sometimes, especially in a game as complex as WoW, the cause of a bug may not even be remotely close to what it might seem or what one might guess. And figuring out to fix that bug — without breaking something else in a completely unpredictable and hard-to-track way — can prove to be an extremely complicated challenge, as it clearly has in this case.

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