Posts Tagged ‘Blade Flurry’

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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So concludes my sorry attempt to tie a little teeny possible development in the lives of Combat rogues into the much bigger development that broke this week in the lives of many WoW raiders.

On to the quasi-news!

Thursday on Twitter, we got our first glimpse into plans in the works to make something happen that lovers of the rogue Combat spec have long clamored for: the ability to force Killing Spree to only attack a single target, even if other targets are within range.

At present, Killing Spree is random: While it’s active, you’ll perform a total of seven attacks within 3.5 seconds on targets within a 10-yard range. That could mean one attack on seven different targets; it could mean seven attacks on a single target; the point is, you have zero control over it. Given that Killing Spree is one of Combat’s major burst damage cooldowns, that means major frustration when you want to dish out serious damage on a target (be it a raid boss or a battleground flag carrier) but the game doesn’t give you that option.

If this exchange with PvP honcho Brian Holinka is any indication, that may be about to change.

That wink is far from a confirmation, of course — but it’s at the very least a coy suggestion that they’re strongly considering doing exactly what @jjones186 suggested:

  • If Blade Flurry is on, it’ll behave the way it always has, indiscriminately jumping to and poking holes in whoever is within range (and, if you have the glyph equipped, returning you to your original spot afterward).
  • If Blade Flurry is off, all seven attacks will be directed at your current target.

There’s a lot of appeal to this approach. It avoids the frustrations of adding a spec-specific glyph to the game that would feel all but required in most PvP and some PvE situations. It gives a player the power to decide when s/he would rather spread KS’s damage around or focus it on one enemy. And it may offer this flexibility in a balanced way, by forcing us to choose between a significant amount of AoE burst and a significant amount of single-target burst (as opposed to being able to keep BF on while KSing a single target, which allows us to have our damage-dealing cake and eat it too).

Finally, it may be the nudge that finally makes Combat worth seriously considering as a competitive arena spec.

With signs increasingly suggesting that Patch 5.4 may hit the PTR very soon — likely within the next week, and possibly even tomorrow — we could get our confirmation shortly on what, if any, changes are in store for one of Combat’s signature spells.

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This just in from today’s round of official Patch 5.2 hotfix notes:

Blade Flurry now has a range of 8 yards, up from 5 yards, and will only hit targets that are within the Rogue’s line-of-sight.

For anyone out there who’s still as steamed as a well-pressed shirt over the fact that Blade Flurry in Patch 5.2 does much less damage in two-target fights than it used to… well, no, actually, for those of you who are still angry about that, shut your faces already, because BF is still the strongest of the three specs on two-target fights, it now has solid DPS potential against 3 to 5 targets, and the originally planned nerf was partially reverted THREE TIMES to ensure that BF would still be a strong ability.

But I digress. For anyone out there who IS still annoyed over the BF changes, this tweak will hopefully turn that frown upside-down. Five yards is melee range; as Chase Christian pointed out just this week on WoW Insider (and many rogue players have noted in forums), that’s just small enough to make it extremely difficult to use BF to its maximum effect in most raid situations. The 60% bump in range may be all Combat rogues need to be competitive with Assassination in less-than-6-nearby-target situations (which accounts for most raid situations in which rogue AoE is helpful).

But why turn the dial up to 8 yards instead of 10? Not entirely sure. I don’t know other classes’ abilities well enough to compare all the ranges, though iirc warriors’ Cleave is only 5 yards. [Edit: As Señor Christian notes, warriors' Bladestorm also has an 8-yard range.]

(Actually, now that I think on it: Eight yards, as it so happens, is the same range that Fan of Knives used to have during the previous two expansions. We also used to have a glyph that extended the range from 8 yards to 12. In Mists, though, the glyph went away — FLASH TRIVIA: What glyph replaced it in WoW’s database? Hint: It’s lethally kinetic — and FoK’s range became 10 yards.)

I assumed that if Blade Flurry were going to be buffed, it’d be buffed to match FoK’s range. But this may well just be a case of the class design team taking an abundance of caution: They’ve already seen the kind of backlash that one Blade Flurry nerf caused, and they likely don’t want to overbuff it now only to have to dial it back down again in the future if 10 yards proves to somehow be too strong. However, don’t be surprised if you see another uptick to 10 yards in Patch 5.3 if Blizzard doesn’t see Combat DPS improve on multitarget fights as much as they’re hoping.

One closing note, on the line-of-sight change: <shrug>. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realize BF ignored LoS in the first place. My best guess is it has to do with a desire to avoid potential issues in arena PvP, where a rogue could potentially chill next to a pillar and beat on one target in front of them, while also transferring some of the damage to an enemy caster on the opposite side of the pillar. How thick are those pillars, anyway?

Ew. That question sounded dirty. Like comparing a person to a sleeping bag filled with tent poles.

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MMO-Champion has just posted its latest datamining results from what appears to be a new Patch 5.2 build — the third build overall — on its way to the PTR. Below is my layman’s recap of the rogue-related changes MMO-Champion spotted. (Please keep in mind the usual caveats about datamining not being 100% complete or reliable.)

  • Blade Flurry’s damage reduction has been somewhat de-nerfed again. It’ll copy 40% (up from 20% in the previous PTR build) of its damage onto up to four nearby targets. The energy regen penalty remains in place. This change is in line with Ghostcrawler’s preview in a forum post on Jan. 11, and seems intended to strike a balance between “Combat’s cleave is way too powerful” and “Combat’s cleave is so awful, and the spec offers so few other benefits, that there’s no reason to go Combat in raids anymore.” This marks the second straight PTR build restoring some oomph to Blade Flurry after the initial massive nerf.
  • Smoke Bomb is getting a buff that will increase its value in PvP (and possibly PvE). In addition to its existing effects, it’ll also reduce the damage taken by “allies” within the smoke cloud by 20%. We’ll likely need to test for ourselves some of the questions this change raises, such as: How will this stack with other damage-reducing effects? Does “allies” include all players (and pets, and NPCs) of the same faction, or must they be in the same party as the rogue? Will the ability work against severely damaging spells cast by raid bosses, or will they be exempt?
  • Marked for Death’s tooltip has been edited slightly. It now says the cooldown resets “when the target dies” instead of “if the target dies within 60 seconds.” This feels like it’s just an attempt to clarify the tooltip, not any change in the way the ability works.
  • Glyph of Detection’s tooltip has also been changed. It now says you focus intently on trying to detect “certain creatures” rather than “something.” This still gives me absolutely no more clue than I had before about what practical application the swirly ball is supposed to have within the game. (I thought its return was supposed to be of the fun-but-useless variety. Maybe that’s changing?)

Related link reminder: official Patch 5.2 change compilation ~~ unofficial Patch 5.2 datamining compilation

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The Twitxchange with Ghostcrawler below pokes at an issue I’m still working through: How “different” should the three rogue spec rotations feel in PvE?

 

 

This back-and-forth is part of the much larger exchange of tweets we’ve seen about the upcoming Blade Flurry changes in Patch 5.2, which started out as a flat 75% copied-damage reduction and currently stands as a 60% reduction that will now apply to as many as four nearby targets instead of just one.

The final point Ghostcrawler makes in the exchange above raises what, for me, is an intriguing question over how important it is that our three rogue specs have different rotations. Combat’s upcoming Blade Flurry changes will further entrench three surprisingly different AoE damage approaches for the three specs:

  • Assassination: Fan of Knives + Tab-Rupture (keeping the bleed on multiple targets to maximize energy regen for more FoKs)
  • Combat: Blade Flurry (plus Killing Spree and AdRush for fun burst)
  • Subtlety: Fan of Knives + Crimson Tempest (still amazing to type that; it’s an all-AoE rotation! for a ROGUE!)

I realize there’s room for debate over the optimal AoE “rotation” for Assassination (i.e., whether/when Slice and Dice and Envenom should come into play), but we’re still talking three distinct approaches. If making the rogue specs “feel” different in multi-target situations was a design goal, 5.2 will mark a huge success.

The ultimate rogue rotation: Set it and forget it!

But I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, and ask: What’s the point of this success? (I had originally written a paragraph here arguing that the three specs have distinctly different single-target rotations as well, but it got too bogged down in specifics and I drifted away from this central question, so I may save that for another day.) Why is it so important that the rogue *rotations* — be they single-target or multi-target — be different from spec to spec? How is that a valuable intrinsic quality of the class?

I realize there are a fair number — maybe even a large number — of rogue players out there who are steadfastly loyal to a particular spec. Whether it’s the playstyle or the (loosely associated) lore, they identify themselves by the spec as much as the class as a whole. They’re not just rogues — they’re *Combat* (or Mut, or Sub) rogues.

But what is it that makes a *player* a Combat (or whatever) rogue? If you ask players to list the qualities of their favorite spec, how many will focus on mechanics — the ability to toggle Killing Spree, the fun of using Shadow Dance, the sheer thrill that comes with the knowledge that 40% of your damage comes passively from Deadly Poison? (Sorry, sorry — couldn’t help it. Assassination is actually my favorite spec.)

Or is the answer to the question a little more emotional, more aesthetic, than that? I don’t prefer Assassination because I think Envenom is a clever way to actively increase our passive damage (oops, paradox) and separate less-skilled players from more skilled players. (Actually, I think Assassination fails to deliver on that front, but that’s another topic.) Or because I like the incorporation of Rupture for energy regen. Or because I think Vendetta is a fun cooldown. Or because of *any* particular ability or talent.

Assassination: Little. Yellow. Different.

No, I like Assassination the most because it “feels” different. Mutilate is the most expensive CP builder we have; as a result, Assassination has the slowest rotation by far, because a chunk of time is often spent waiting for energy to regen so we can Mutilate again. And I *like* that. It gives me time to look at what’s happening in the raid around me, to think more about where I’m standing and where I should be standing (and where I’ll need to be standing in a few seconds). I’ve always felt that the weaving of Mutilates, well-timed Envenoms and Ruptures makes the Assassination rotation feel like a dance — ironic, since Subtlety is the spec that actually has a (Shadow) Dance in it.

But despite that, I don’t consider myself an “Assassination rogue.” If the Assassination spec were to lose that “dance” feel, I wouldn’t suddenly stop playing the class. I’m a WoW player who enjoys playing a rogue more than other classes primarily because of the stealth/strategy component, not because of how particular mechanics play. And I worry that, if Blizzard devs continue to prioritize efforts to define and balance what essentially is three distinct rogue *classes* — each with its own unique mechanics — that we’re not going to get back to a place where rogues as a whole feel fresh and distinct. We can’t, because we’re too busy trying to tease out what’s fresh and distinct between each individual spec — as well as maintaining balance not only between the three rogue specs, but between rogues and other classes on the whole.

I’m not sure whether this makes me a fan of the idea of having only a single rogue DPS spec for the entire class, or whether it just means I wish that aesthetics, not mechanics, could be all that truly defines the differences between the specs. (Combat’s unique ability to dual-wield slow weapons would be one example here.) I just know that I’m not comfortable with the idea that each rogue spec has to have its mechanical niche. I worry that class design and balance suffer as a result.

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Earlier today, Ghostcrawler added a second ginormous data-dump of answered questions into the new Patch 5.2 discussion thread he created yesterday. Here’s the new roguey stuff; I’ll intersperse my comments between each item.

 

During Shuriken Toss, your auto attacks are replaced with throwing Shurikens, which do 80% weapon damage, but are on the ‘yellow combat table’, meaning they don’t glance, and don’t suffer the dual wield miss penalty. The 80% number was chosen because that approximately offsets those other benefits.

This is a clarification of some of the specifics that players have come across while testing out the new Shuriken Toss autoattack system on the PTR. These autoattacks, which kick in for 10 seconds if you use ST from a range of more than 10 yards, behave pretty similarly to a hunter’s autoattacks. To offset the fact that ST autoattacks will have a drastically higher chance to hit the target (and thus apply poisons) than our regular melee autoattacks, they nerfed the damage. That way we won’t feel enticed to do some seriously wacky stuff with our combat rotations (like constantly moving into/out of range so we can keep refreshing out ST autoattacks).

 

In our above description of Blade Flurry, ‘normal’ means the same as it previously did; that is to say, the damage that the ability would have done had it hit the secondary target.

This clarifies GC’s comment yesterday that, in the next PTR build, Blade Flurry would be further de-nerfed to deal “40% of normal damage to up to 4 additional targets.” This clarification certifies that BF won’t work any differently from how it used to — i.e., it won’t start copying poison damage or Elemental Force procs or any of that stuff.

 

The 2pc does encourage using Rupture as Combat.

The two-piece Tier 15 raid set bonus elongates finishing moves that have durations based on the number of CPs we used. As I mentioned in this EJ post (and others have likely noted as well, but who pays attention to THEM?), this feels likely to result in Rupture becoming more desirable for Combat rogues. GC appears to have confirmed that’s the intent.

 

Burst of Speed saying “movement-reducing” means that it no longer breaks roots, but does break snares.

The tooltip for BoS on live uses the phrase “movement-impairing” instead. Between the text change, the phrasing of the official patch preview notes, and the results of player testing on the PTR, we were already pretty sure we knew what “movement-reducing” meant. Now we know for sure.

 

We are experimenting with allowing Smoke Bomb to reduce the damage done to allies by 20%. We agree that rogues are lacking in the group utility department and we’d like to see less use of Smoke Bomb strictly as an offensive ability in PvP.

Cool. :) (What do you want from me? PvP is like that scary old aunt with a huge ugly mole on her face whose house I’m afraid to visit.)

 

We are going to reduce the PvP set bonus from +50 energy to +30 energy.

This is a more solid affirmation of something Ghostcrawler tweeted about yesterday regarding the new four-piece PvP set bonus. Keep in mind that the starting point here is +10 energy (that’s what we have now), so this is still a huge deal. A number of rogue players have been pretty frank about how they felt +50 was likely too much, so this buff-reduction is unlikely to bother folks who aren’t wearing aluminum foil on their heads.

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(I’ve added some clarifications, in italics, based on GC’s subsequent comments.)

Ghostcrawler took to the official WoW PTR Discussion forum to start up a new discussion thread where he can answer questions (and to provide a single spot for players to provide feedback) specifically regarding class mechanics and set bonuses in Patch 5.2. This is basically a new edition of the amazing “Class Balance Analysis” threads (one, two) that Ghostcrawler and other CMs took part in during the Mists of Pandaria beta, in which he answered a huge number of questions regarding how (and why) certain changes were being made to the way our classes and specs work, as well as how those specific changes actually worked.

Now that I’ve put you to sleep with that incredibly long-winded background, here’s the first bit of rogue-specific clarifying info that Ghostcrawler provided in the thread:

  • We are still iterating on Blade Flurry. We feel like the implementation of Blade Flurry on live forces rogues to go Combat on any cleave fights, while leaving Combat too far behind on any single target fights. It’s fine if the rogue specs have niches, but the niches shouldn’t be so rigid that you don’t feel like you have any choice in spec. Blade Flurry will be how Combat does 2-5 target AoE damage. In the next PTR build, it deals 40% of normal damage to up to 4 additional targets, for a 20% energy regen reduction. [Ruffy's Note 1/11: GC quickly clarified "normal" to mean "the same as it previously did; that is to say, the damage that the ability would have done had it hit the secondary target."]
  • The Rogue 2T15 bonus does apply to all finishers with a duration, including Slice and Dice, Kidney Shot, Recuperate, Envenom, and Rupture. In build 16446, the Kidney Shot increase was broken, but is fixed for the next build. [Ruffy's Note 1/11: GC later added, "The 2pc does encourage using Rupture as Combat."]

I’m no theorycrafter, so I’ll leave it to the experts to work out whether this latest planned de-nerf to Blade Flurry’s cleave will be enough to alleviate concerns that Combat will be shunned in end-game PvE during the next patch due to its lack of unique value compared to the other specs.

The clarification on the two-piece Tier 15 set bonus certifies that it’s not intended to make Eviscerate or Crimson Tempest hit harder, which makes some sense given what I think the set bonuses as a whole are intended to do: Increase our active damage on single-target fights without unbalancing the specs. (I’ve vomited forth a bunch of thoughts on this idea over at Elitist Jerks, and have high hopes that my logic will be mercilessly ripped to shreds shortly.)

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MMO-Champion and Wowhead have datamined what appears to be the second Patch 5.2 PTR build (though as of this post, no new build was yet in place on the PTR server and which looks like it hit the PTR server within a few hours afterward). I’ve incorporated the new rogue changes into my big ol’ collection of datamined info, but here’s a layman’s summary of the apparent changes from the previous build. Please note, again, that datamining is notoriously unreliable and may not match up with official patch notes or the designers’ ultimate plans.

  • The nerfed Blade Flurry will still copy 25% of damage, down from 100% on the live servers. However, that damage will now be copied onto *up to four* nearby targets, up from one. The energy regen penalty remains in place.
  • Cloak and Dagger appears to have finally replaced Hit and Run in the level-60 talent tier. (This is the spot that replaces Preparation, which is going baseline.) Here’s a  video from wavefunctionp of him testing out the ability on the PTR.
  • The Burst of Speed tooltip has been updated to reflect what’s in the official patch preview notes: It costs 30 energy, down from 50 on the live servers, and it now breaks “movement-slowing” effects rather than “movement-impairing” effects (meaning it’ll still break snares/slows, but not roots).
  • The Sanguinary Vein buff that’s already in the official patch preview notes now appears in the PTR tooltip.
  • Our Tier 15 (new raid gear) set bonuses appear to be:
    • Two piece: Increases the duration of your finishing moves as if you had used an additional combo point, up to a maximum of 6 combo points.
    • Four piece: Shadow Blades also reduces the cost of all your abilities by 40%.

Be sure to check out my full datamined 5.2 rogue changes post and my official 5.2 patch notes post for more complete info on all upcoming changes.

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A pretty insane number of major changes are on the slate for rogues in Patch 5.2, and virtually all of them are positive adjustments: A much-maligned talent eliminated, interesting new talents added, Preparation baselined, earth-nudging PvP improvements… Oh, and there is one noteworthy negative thing: Blade Flurry’s cleave damaged is being reduced 75%.

Which of those changes do you think has generated the most chatter?

Ghostcrawler put his head down and ran back into the scrum yesterday, answering a flurry (HA!) of tweets about the upcoming Combat changes. There are a couple of interesting new tidbits in here, including a confirmation that they’re considering a reduction to Blade Flurry’s energy regen penalty.

 

 

I don’t expect anything in this exchange is going to be enough to pacify people who feel the Blade Flurry nerf is a terrible, class-hurting move. (Well, maybe the energy-regen comment will help a bit.) But hopefully, if you’re one of those folks, you’ll still take some of GC’s points above to heart, at least a little bit.

I realize that, if you look at this change in a vacuum, it can look like a major strength of the class — Combat’s cleave — is being decimated, and very little is being added to compensate *the class* for its removal. Thus the concern I’ve seen from a few players that one end result of this change could be that more versatile classes, or classes with a wider array of fight-specific benefits (such as cleaves) that are *not* being nerfed in 5.2, may become more likely to get the nod in progression raids.

This could certainly happen. Perception is often more important than reality, and if raid leaders begin to widely perceive that rogues are weak overall, their raid representation could well suffer as a result of this blow to Combat’s cleave. But it’s important to keep in mind that rogues are *very* strong end-game DPS performers right now even when you remove our cleave from the equation. 5.2 is not likely to change that.

So while I understand the long faces — nerfs are poopy and we hate them and they make us sad — how realistic is it, really, that raid leaders will dump rogues en masse because a niche strength is no longer that strong? And, as GC asked in that final question in the thread, where should we draw that highly subjective line between “good” and “bad” DPS on a cleave fight?

Somehow I get the feeling this conversation is far from over. :)

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(Updates are at the bottom of the post.)

Amidst a sea of buffs, talent redesigns and sweet-looking PvP-oriented changes impacting rogues, the Patch 5.2 preview notes feature a big ol’ honkin’ iceberg: a 75% nerf to the damage Blade Flurry deals to its second target. As Combat rogues everywhere rent their garments in fury, Ghostcrawler took to Twitter to address one representative member of the frenzied masses:

This by no means constitutes a promise that we’ll see a buff to Fan of Knives, Crimson Tempest or some other element of Combat’s gameplay that might increase its ability to deal AoE damage. But it at least means the class design team is aware of the potential that Combat is about to go from feeling required on two-target fights to feeling downright shunned on any fight in which there’s more than one target within melee range.

———-

UPDATE 12/29-31: Ghostcrawler, apparently fresh back from his vacation, responded to a slew of tweets this weekend, including these:

Obviously, “massive” is a subjective term. Judging by the early patch 5.2 preview notes, it would appear that the design team’s current rule of thumb is that the difference shouldn’t be more than a 10% DPS increase or so. (Aldriana recently theorized that, as the patch 5.2 notes currently stand, the DPS boost from Blade Flurry in ideal situations would be 8%, but I’m not sure whether he took into account the 5% attack power increase Combat is slated to get through a Vitality buff.)

That most recent tweet gets at a good question, and one you and I are not in a good position to answer (unless you are a member of the Blizzard team working on WoW, anyway). I don’t feel that Simcraft or WoL/Raidbots are sufficient at this point (if they ever were) for determining exactly what the “real-world” DPS difference is between equally geared, equally skilled, equally buffed Assassination and Combat rogues who are each executing optimal rotations. Blizz likely knows that better than any of us do.

It’s also entirely possible that — and I’m just tossing this out there — Combat and Subtlety are both already *very* close in single-target DPS performance. And these buffs, small as they are, are meant more to create the perception of greater viability among us players so that we will feel more willing to experiment with specs other than Assassination in the upcoming raid tier.

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