Posts Tagged ‘rogue’

(Last updated: April 11)

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

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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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If you follow MMO-Champion’s posts, you’re already aware of the Warlords of Draenor early gameplay footage that the Korean site Inven posted this week. These videos are indeed legit; they stem from a press tour that some Blizzfolk (among them PvP honcho Brian Holinka) are doing out in South Korea.

And they include footage of someone playing a Level 90 Combat rogue, very badly, in the “new” Shadowmoon Valley.

I really want to stress that what you see in this video is not necessarily an indication of *anything* that is or isn’t changing about rogues in Warlords. As tech game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig noted in a tweet last night:

So it’s very possible that what we see in this video no longer reflects what we’ll see when we get our hands on the Warlords beta.

That said, a few bits stand out as new/different about the rogue experience in this video. (The player clearly didn’t prioritize looking at spells, talents, glyphs or anything else related to class mechanics in this demo; they were focused entirely on creating a character and playing in the zone. So we only got to see a very small chunk of rogue stuff.)

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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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Quick post with a heads-up on the first direct change to the rogue class in a good while — though it won’t kick in until the next minor patch (5.4.7), which is currently still on the public test realm.

Nerve Strike now causes a successful Kidney Shot or Cheap Shot to also reduce the damage dealt by player targets by 25% (down from 50% for player targets). No changes to the talent when used against non-player targets.

That update to the official PTR patch notes, posted this evening, make official the datamining from earlier today.

Early reaction to the planned nerf has been muted. (This is no doubt at least in part due to the fact that another change revealed at the same time — warrior Charge becoming a root instead of a stun — caused a significant stir, before a clarification was issued that adding a stun effect would still be an option via talent.) Most of the player comments I’ve come across suggest it was an appropriate adjustment to the power of rogue peels (the ability to take pressure off of a teammate who’s being hurt) in arena comps.

Quoth WoW PvP chief Brian Holinka:

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What can I say? I missed doing these recaps. :)

Balancing life, work, gaming, WoW Insider and a couple of other endeavors has proven to be… well, to be honest, about as much of a brutal challenge as I feared it might be (but held out hope that it wouldn’t), so this blog and my time on public forums have been a-mightily neglected by me as a result.

But man, I liked This Week in Rogueball. I mean, c’mon: The title alone is enough of a reason not to give up on it. And I found it as useful to compile a list of recent rogue community goings-on as the millionsthousandshundredsscorestwo of you who regularly read them found them useful to read. They helped me stay disciplined about keeping up to date on what the Webby world is saying about our class.

So! No promises, but I’m gonna try to start this up again and see how it goes.

Blizzfolk on Twitter

We saw a flurry of tweets over the past week from Ghostcrawler (a.k.a. Greg Street), our soon-to-be dearly departed lead WoW systems designer, and Celestalon (a.k.a. Chadd Nervig), a previously under-the-radar game designer who over the past two weeks has established himself as GC’s “replacement” as a question-and-vitriol magnet on primarily PvE-related WoW issues.

Hop over to the Tweets From the Shadows page to see the full conversations, but in short, here’s what they talked about:

  • Celestalon affirmed that there’s no massive “Warlock-style” overhaul planned for rogues in the new expansion (roughly the umpteenth time a designer has said that), but that they’re definitely focusing on making each rogue spec feel different to play.
  • Celestalon also confirmed that positional requirements are being removed from abilities like Ambush and Backstab in Warlords/Patch 6.0.
  • He dodged a question about improving rogue AoE damage, subtly implying that it’s unlikely to change.
  • Ghostcrawler reflected back on some rogue-related game design choices, like the move to make Subtlety a more viable PvE spec over the past few years and the ever-controversial-among-a-minority decision to keep combo points stacking on the target (rather than on the rogue directly).
  • PvP maven Brian Holinka suggested that DPS cooldowns like Shadow Dance, which actually change our gameplay while they’re active, are the models they want to hold up as examples as they ponder how to refine cooldowns gamewide for the next expansion. (This makes me suspect that more “boring” cooldowns like Vendetta may not be long for this world, at least not in their current form.)

In the Blogosphere

  • Also more of a “month in rogueball” thing, but OneRogue has been blogging roughly every week or two with personal perspectives on the class, as well as community updates similar to the one you’re reading now. He also recently launched a pretty detailed “Resources” section that links to some of our best go-to spots for class info.

Within the Fora

Actually, I’m still pretty brutally behind on the rogue conversations happening on the official WoW forums, MMO-Champion, ArenaJunkies and the like. If you saw any particularly useful or productive discussions, please give ‘em shoutouts in the comments!

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There were very few “big reveals” in terms of class changes at this BlizzCon — not just for rogues, but for our lesser brethren as well. My suspicion is that they simply haven’t worked through/finalized the mechanic adjustments they want to make for all classes, and didn’t want to generate extra angst by revealing only part of the story for some classes. (This would also at least partly explain why there was no class design panel, and why class-specific questions were forbidden at the “almost everything” Q&A yesterday.)

Nonetheless, we got a few new nuggets in Day the Second, including some clarifications on yesterday’s revelations.

I mentioned earlier that a chunk of the official FAQ for the expansion announcement referred to the elimination of hit and expertise, and the addition of some new interesting stats. Yesterday’s discussion panel on game systems painted in more (but not all) of the picture. Here’s the short version of the rogue-relevant stuff:

  • Hit, expertise, dodge and parry will all disappear from our gear (what used to be caps will become baseline). Ghostcrawler also acknowledged in a tweet that some racials will need work, since several races, for instance, had a racial bonus directly tied to expertise.
  • Reforging will be eliminated, gemming and enchanting will be available on fewer pieces of gear (but will be more powerful), and both socket bonuses and meta gems go bye-bye. In other words, most of the things that I suspect people use ShadowCraft (and Ask Mr. Robot) for at the moment will go away, and it’s possible that rogues will start saving multiple gear sets again (as they did before reforging existed), depending on how different stat weights end up being between specs.
  • Rare gear drops (akin to Thunderforged gear drops in raids) will include new “tertiary” stats on them, many of which look an awful lot like the funky mechanics we saw in our Patch 5.4 trinkets — multistrike, cooldown reduction, etc. (Also on their list of possible stats: movement speed and removal of durability loss.) The designers are clearly still debating how (and whether) this will all work, so it’s possible it will end up a lot different than the preview at BlizzCon suggested.
  • Positional requirements appear to be gone. This is a much bigger deal than its place in this list suggests, but it wasn’t actually mentioned in any of the discussion panels, so my cynical side refuses to allow me to believe they really plan to make it happen. But according to Xyronic at MMO-Champion — and as attested by players who got to try out Warlords on the demo floor at BlizzCon — Backstab, and similar abilities that once required you to be behind the target, can now be used directly in the faces of your enemies.
  • This happened:
    heart

I’ll have a little more on all of this later in the week on WoW Insider, including any new info that becomes available and the beginnings of some poorly thought-out analysis regarding what it all means.

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I’ll examine this stuff in a little more detail over on WoW Insider next week, but we’ve got two items of note from Day the First in the Year of the Seventh Convention of Blizzard:

Stat Changes: Farewell to Caps

Nestled within the official Blizzard FAQ for the Warlords of Draenor launch announcement is this little nugget, which if you’ve been following any of the fansites you’ve already seen a half-dozen times:

One of our goals for Warlords of Draenor is to make the act of finding and collecting loot even more exciting for players. With that in mind, we’re adding some fun new stats to gear, such as Movement Speed and Cleave, which gives you a chance to do extra damage or healing to additional nearby targets. In addition, we’ll be retiring a few stats that players don’t find very enjoyable to manage, such as Hit and Expertise. We’re also making improvements to armor itemization that will make it easier to share armor pieces across classes. We’ll have more details to share as development continues.

My instinctive reaction is a positive one on the hit/expertise removal front (I generally cheer changes that remove aspects of the game that are mindless and rote) and… intrigued on the idea of us getting more stats that have an obvious, direct impact on gameplay in a way that so many of our current stats simply aren’t designed to have. (At least, not within the span of a single set of gear reforges. Reforging between mastery and haste has basically no noticeable affect, but if we were switching between movement speed and cleave strength? Now that’s a spicy meatball.)

I’ve got tons of questions in my brain — not least among them how quickly/easily we’ll be able to alter stats on our gear from moment to moment, when they have the potential to wildly swing in importance depending on the specifics of the in-game encounter — but I expect we’ll hear a lot more about all of this in the “Raids, Gameplay, Questing and More” panel on Sunday at 2:30pm ET, so I’ll shut it for now.

Talent Changes: A New Tier Beckons

We’ll be getting a new talent tier at level 100 in WoD, and from the looks of it (by which I mean “from the looks of the photos that people surreptitiously took while playing an early demo of WoD at BlizzCon”), they’ll be worth talking about at length over the upcoming weeks ‘n’ months. With endless thanks to a historically great rogue who will remain nameless here only because I don’t want to risk getting him in more trouble than he already would be simply for leaking the photos, I can tell you that the options appear to be:

  • Master the Basics: “When you critically strike with an autoattack, you gain an additional combo point on your target.” (Apparently a passive ability.)
  • Shadow Reflection: “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.” (Has a 20-yard cast range and a 2-minute cooldown.)
  • Death From Above: “Finishing move that consumes combo points on the target to empower your weapons with shadow energy and perform a devastating two-part attack. You whirl around, dealing Shadow damage to all enemies within 8 yds, then leap into the air and slice into your target on the way back down, dealing additional Shadow damage. (Costs 50 energy and has a 20-second cooldown. More importantly, probably looks REALLY FREAKING COOL. The tooltip includes damage numbers that scale with the number of CPs you have, but they’re obviously just placeholders and not even worth noting here.)

Again, a crazy-huge number of questions here, which I’ll explore in a little more depth next week. Unlike with the stats stuff above, I’m not so sure we’ll hear a ton of detail about any of these at BlizzCon on Sunday, given that there are no class-design panels; I suspect we’ll need to wait a few days at least (if not weeks) before we get the opportunity to learn more.

Ability Improvement While Leveling?

I expect we’ll learn more about this on Sunday as well, but here’s another curious bit from the official WoD FAQ:

Warlords of Draenor introduces a new bonus system that rewards players with powerful perks as they level up to the new cap. At every level from 91 to 100, characters will earn a major permanent boost to one of their their key spells and abilities (e.g. a Fire Mage might earn a +50% damage boost to Pyroblast or +30% boost to Scorch).

If there’s as much flexibility in this as it sounds like there may be, this could provide an interesting new level of customization for us — that is, assuming it isn’t simply a matter of crunching a few numbers and easily theorycrafting out which ability buff provides the greatest DPS benefit. (And I suspect they’ll make sure it’s not that simple, else they wouldn’t be trying to implement something like this in the first place while eliminating stuff like the hit/expertise cap.)

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Sorry for two things: 1) the delay on this post (this hotfix is at least two days old) and 2) the fact that I pretty much have no clue what it’s about. I am posting it late at night (on the right coast, at least) in hopes that I’ll be able to alleviate my OCD-ish need to report this while still ensuring that almost nobody reads it.

The Oct. 7 update to the official Patch 5.4 hotfix notes (not to be confused with the Oct. 9 update, which is the day I’m writing this post, but not the day to which I’m referring, because that would make too much sense) included this:

Corrected an issue with Cloak and Dagger that could allow Rogues to bypass some targeting and line-of-sight restrictions.

Yep. So. That happened.

I was away from gaming and blogging for virtually all of the past week-plus, so you guys may have more clue than me what this was about. My educated guess is that it was meant to bring Shadowstep’s and CnD’s mechanics closer together. For instance:

  • In PvE: Meanwhile, on the Siegecrafter Blackfuse fight in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid, one of the tasks us damage-dealers need to perform involves jumping into a pipe so we can be transported over to a conveyor belt where adds spawn. Adds spawn on the belt every 30 seconds, but we can only use the pipe once every 60 seconds (thanks to a debuff placed on us). A few of you clever roguetypes realized that you could use Cloak and Dagger (but not Shadowstep) to bypass the debuff and teleport directly to an add on the belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hotfix resolved that little issue as well.

If I’m wrong about any or all of this, please yell at me and cast aspersions in the comments.

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