Archive for the ‘Official Patch/Hotfix Notes’ Category

(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.

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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.)

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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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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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(Last updated: April 11. Please note that this post will become increasingly outdated as time goes by. I’ll be compiling an all-inclusive, always-updated page as soon as I’m able; in the meantime, be sure to read my other posts on the alpha patch notes in addition to this one.)

The first (at last!) official version of the Warlords of Draenor “alpha” notes are… very, very long. And winding. Much like the path a rogue must take through a battleground so as to avoid detection and catch their enemy unawares. Or something.

There are bits ‘n’ chunks ‘n’ morsels of rogue-related information scattered throughout this hefty document, and as you and I both know, rogues are not built to simply barrel through a huge blog post in order to reach their objective. We need a little something to slip past all of those silly, extraneous details the lesser classes care about and get right to the goods.

Read on, my brethren.

(Please keep in mind: These are *alpha* notes. Widespread testing has not even begun. Any and all of this can, and much of it likely will, change over the many months between now and the launch of WoD.)

The Really Big Stuff (Classwide)

  • Combo points will stack on the rogue, not the target. (this is not in the notes yet)
  • Beyond that, there are no major, fundamental changes to rogue mechanics on the table.
  • That said, a ton of existing spells and class mechanics are changing in ways that, although they seem subtle and small individually, will likely add up to create a more distinctive “feel” and theme for each rogue spec.
  • Also, nuances being added to each spec (well, more so for Assassination and Combat than Subtlety) will likely create more of a “skill gap” separating the damage-dealing potential of a person who’s “decent” at playing a rogue from a person who’s excellent at playing one.
  • Ambush will no longer have a positional requirement; it can be used in front or behind the target. (Backstab is a different story; see the Subtlety section below.)
  • The following spells will go bye-bye:
    • Disarm Trap
    • Dismantle
    • Expose Armor
    • Mind-Numbing Poison
    • Paralytic Poison
    • Redirect (since CPs will stack on the rogue; this is not in the notes yet)
    • Rupture (for combat spec only; Mut and Sub will still have it)
    • Shadow Blades

(more…)

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Throughout the Mists expansion, an unaddressed quirk had allowed rogues to cause trouble while stealthed for much longer than was intended.

No more.

From the March 18 Patch 5.4.7 hotfix list (though it appears to have been live for at least a day prior):

Resolved an issue where Vanish modified by Glyph of Vanish was incorrectly causing the Subterfuge effect to trigger twice. Vanish will now cancel its effect when the duration of Subterfuge expires.

In other words, what was happening here was that a rogue would cast Vanish, which would activate Subterfuge. Normally, both the “improved stealth mode” granted by Vanish and the Subterfuge buff last for three seconds, meaning they drop off at the same time. But the Glyph of Vanish makes that “improved stealth” last a total of five seconds. So it caused Subterfuge to actually proc twice — once when the rogue first hit Vanish, and then again when the five seconds wore off, extending their stealth by an additional three seconds.

(Correct me if I’m wrong, but if a rogue used Preparation after this, they could theoretically do everything all over again with an additional Vanish, actually giving them 16 seconds of stealth while still actively wreaking havoc.)

From what little I know about this bug, the value of exploiting it was not tremendous, particularly in PvP. Players had known about it for quite some time, but because it requires PvP rogues to burn a hugely valuable Vanish for somewhat dubious benefit, its relevance in competitive environments (specifically arena) was pretty limited.

It was probably utilized much more frequently among Subtlety raiders who were very serious about optimizing their DPS rotation, since its use during raid fights would have yielded more Ambushes (and, I’m assuming without actually pondering numbers here, better Find Weakness uptime).

But! Not anymore. :)

But but! There’s at least one upside:

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On March 11, this hotfix was posted:

Worgen

  • Darkflight’s movement speed increase no longer stacks with Burning Rush or Burst of Speed.

Almost immediately, rogues started noticing. And it wasn’t just the worgen-only Darkflight-BoS combo — which had reportedly allowed worgen rogues to briefly experience run speeds of up to 425% — that had apparently been affected. Burst of Speed no longer appears to stack with any other movement-speed enhancing spell, including the engineering perk Nitro Boosts.

This, in and of itself, appeared to cause only a small amount of grumbling. Worgen players have long been able to stack Darkflight with Burst of Speed, giving them a huge advantage in select situations — for instance, as a flag carrier in Warsong Gulch. Establishing better balance, even at this late stage in the expansion, is hard to argue against, particularly when the change is ultimately such a small one.

Regardless, though not explicitly laid out within the hotfix, the change appears to be “pretty much” intended:

What may be less intended is a side effect: While Burst of Speed is active, rogues appear to be locked out from using any other movement-enhancing spell, including Sprint. This prevents a rogue from, say, hitting Sprint just as BoS is about to wear off to maintain their 70% speed buff without interruption. Instead, BoS must actually drop off, briefly slowing the rogue, before Sprint can be activated.

Whether this is part of the intended changes or not — and whether it’ll be tweaked or not — remains to be seen. But it looks like at least the design team is keenly aware of the complaints.

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