Posts Tagged ‘Subtlety’

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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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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Well, this’ll probably make a few people unhappy. :)

A new batch of hotfixes was just posted on WoW’s official site, and it includes a whole mess of balance changes to nearly every class.

These are the rogue bits:

  • Assassination: Assassin’s Resolve now increases the Rogue’s damage by 20% (down from 25%).
  • Subtlety: Sanguinary Vein now causes the Rogue to deal 35% additional damage to targets afflicted by Rupture, Garrote, or Crimson Tempest (up from 25%).
  • Subtlety: Tier-16 4-piece set bonus should no longer incorrectly activate from attacks other than Backstab.

I realize the Assassination nerf may instill within you a deep desire to wail and gnash your teeth, but before you grind those molars down to nubs, let me show you these:

One Spec to Rule Them All?

These are Raidbots’ DPS graphs (top 100 average; 25-man normal mode). That line up at the top is Assassination. On these three fights, it’s not even close — we’re talking a 10%-20% gap between Mut and the next-best spec.

Now, Raidbots’ trend lines and DPS averages always need to be taken with a healthy dose of salt, because any number of biases can potentially come into play that skew the data and make gaps look larger than they are. Our theorycrafter extraordinaire Fierydemise, for instance, offers that Mut’s quicker learning curve compared to most other specs/classes may be partly to blame.

But also keep in mind that the new raid has been out for two weeks now. Blizzard’s designers have access to a far deeper, far more informative array of data on raid performance than we do, and are notoriously (and understandably) reluctant to nerf specs after a patch has launched. It takes a *lot* for them to decide it’s worth it; clearly, in this case, they felt the cumulative evidence showed that Mut was blatantly overperforming — and that its overperformance was consistent, if not increasing, as more and more players began to progress through the new raid.

If the charts above hold true, the nerfs about to hit the spec (which likely won’t actually take effect until Tuesday’s restarts) won’t seriously affect its dominance on fights like Norushen. They’ll just temper it a bit.

Meanwhile, as you can also see in the above charts, Subtlety continues to be dragged through the mud in end-game PvE. The spec’s horrible performance overall may be less about its actual DPS potential and more about the fact that most raiders still won’t touch it with a ten foot e-pole, but regardless the designers clearly felt something had to be done to encourage folks to give Sub a shot. (Personally, I’m increasingly feeling like removing Backstab’s positional requirement would go much farther toward achieving that goal than any DPS adjustments would.) I’ve also seen a handful of complaints that rogues’ sustained damage in PvP feels a little low, so this may well help on that front as well.

Lastly, the final hotfix note refers to reports from players that the new Tier 16 four-piece set bonus for Subtlety — in which every Backstab has a chance to turn your *next* Backstab into an Ambush you can use outside of stealth — wasn’t just proccing off of Backstab, but off of all sorts of other abilities, including Fan of Knives and regular Ambushes. That issue should be cleaned up shortly.

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The number of changes incoming for rogues in Patch 5.4 is… lots. It’s a lots number. If you grab a bottle of vodka, flip through my full summary of rogue changes and drink every time you see a buff, you will be in a hospital having your stomach pumped by the time you’re done.

And just for good measure, it looks like we’re getting one more buff before the patch goes live: This time, Ambush gets in on the fun.

Quietly folded into the official 5.4 patch notes (there’s no red to indicate updates to the latest version because it’s technically an entirely new set of notes — this is now the “live” notes instead of the PTR notes) is this new rogue change:

Ambush damage has been increased by 12%.

This buff is almost certainly intended to avoid a problem that Haileaus, our class’s most prominent expert on PvE Subtlety spec, noted in a recent post in the official forums: Backstab had been buffed so much for 5.4 that it was actually looking *better* than Ambush as a stealth opener in many some cases. Presumably the Ambush buff will ensure that doesn’t happen.

This buff will also make rogues of any spec who open with Ambush just a little more deadly — though I should point out that, at this point, I don’t know of any in-depth theorycrafting that’s been done (and haven’t done any myself) to see whether Ambush is actually going to be the best option to use as an opener if you’re raiding as Mut or Combat in 5.4.

Regardless, this buff to Ambush raises the final tally. Let’s take a look at the big board:

  • Rogue Buffs in 5.4: 20
  • Rogue Bug Fixes and Gameplay Improvements in 5.4: 4
  • Rogue Nerfs in 5.4: 2

Don’t never let nobody say Blizzard doesn’t love ya, stabbers.

For All Your Roguely Patch 5.4 Needs

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[UPDATE 8/14/13: The day after I posted this, Blizz updated its official patch notes; clicky to see how the notes matched up to the alluring datamines.]

The first (unofficial) pass at rogue damage numbers on the Patch 5.4 PTR appears to bring half a gajillion DPS buffs to go with the bevy of mobility, survivability and quality-of-life improvements that we already have on tap for the next patch.

Even Assassination appears slated for some buffs. Like, large ones. Hey, I’m as surprised as you are.

We’ll see an update to the official notes sometime on Wednesday, so that should add some clarity to these changes (i.e., let us know whether we should actually trust them) and give us an idea for what further adjustments may be on the way in the next couple of PTR builds.

But assuming they hold up and aren’t bad/misleading datamining (always a possibility — in fact, Blizz PvP maven Brian Holinka called today’s datamine out as a particularly inaccurate one, though he seemed to be referring to changes misinterpreted as affecting more than one spec in a class), here are the new rogue buffs on the table that have been datamined by MMO-Champion and Wowhead, along with a smidge of analysis:

All Specs

  • Fan of Knives appears to be getting a more than 20% damage buff (20% to its raw damage, 25% to its attack power scaling).

Assassination

  • Mutilate appears to be getting a 40% buff.
  • Ditto for Dispatch.
  • These changes would buff Assassination DPS by 7.4% compared to Patch 5.3 (not including set bonuses), according to calculations by rougely theorycrafter Fierydemise.
  • If you feel like these changes came out of nowhere… You ain’t the only one. Mut is an extremely strong spec in raids right now, and GC didn’t mention it at all in his class-by-class walkthrough of 5.4 changes on Monday. But a tweet from GC earlier today seemed to confirm that these changes are at least somewhat legit, so unless he’s trolling, this step is to offset what apparently is a weak-looking Mut spec on the PTR thus far.

Combat

  • Vitality’s attack power boost looks like it’s going from 30% up to 35%. (Its energy-regeneration portion remains unchanged.)
  • Revealing Strike appears to be getting a 28% buff.
  • Sinister Strike appears to be getting a roughly 26% buff (on top of its previous adjustments).
  • These changes, coupled with adjustments to SS and Eviscerate (and the addition of Ruthlessness) made earlier in the PTR, would buff Combat DPS by 2.1%, according to Fierydemise.
  • This seems low, especially in light of the Assassination changes above. I’d be surprised if this is the full story. (That is, unless our set bonuses are still so strong that they make the designers leery of making too many direct buffs.)

Subtlety

  • Backstab appears to be getting a 20%-ish buff on top of the buffs that had already been planned.
  • Sanguinary Vein’s damage-increasing effect on bleeding targets appears to be going from 20% up to 25%.
  • These changes, combined with earlier tweaks to Eviscerate and Hemorrhage, would buff Sub’s DPS by 6.3% (which actually feels pretty appropriate).

We’ll see how much of this is still the case when the next few PTR builds are complete — and when the official patch notes are updated sometime on Tuesday. Until then, as Blizz Community Manager Lore suggests:

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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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After  a few quiet weeks on the Patch 5.4 PTR front, a new update to Blizzard’s official PTR notes brings with it a whole mess of rogue adjustments. Here are your headlines:

  • Subtlety’s combo point builders are getting buffed by around 15%. Backstab goes from 275% weapon damage up to 315%, while Hemorrhage goes from 140% weapon damage up to 160% with a slow weapon equipped and from 203% to 232% with a dagger.
  • Eviscerate is getting nerfed by 10%. A few things on this change:
    • This partly offsets the BS/Hemo buffs noted above, and provides a small nerf to Combat, as Fierydemise’s early calculations suggest. I’d be pretty surprised if this isn’t offset by buffs to Combat PvE in other areas as the PTR progresses.
    • This also reduces the burst power of Combat rogues in PvP who may want to use Marked for Death to score two quick Eviscerates. That may seem moot right now, but Combat may well make a resurgence in PvP next patch thanks to the ability to target-focus Killing Spree.
    • The net result of this nerf and the BS/Hemo buffs should be that Sub rogues become less bursty in PvP. Meanwhile, they should also have more uptime on their targets, because…
  • Our entire level-60 mobility talent tier is getting buffed.
    • Burst of Speed’s energy cost will be cut in half, from 30 energy to 15. (Remember that the cost was 60 at the start of the expansion.)
    • Cloak and Dagger’s range will increase from 30 to 40 yards. (The stealth restriction looks like it’s staying put.)
    • Shadowstep’s cooldown will drop from 24 seconds to 20.
  • Cheat Death is getting buffed. When it activates, it’ll reduce damage by 85% instead of 80%.

Nothing official yet on the possibly-maybe-new rogue glyphs that were datamined last week. We also have yet to see any concrete word from Blizzfolk on their hopes and plans for our PvE Tier 16 set bonuses, which are still going through adjustments (as I also noted in last week’s datamining post). We’re still likely in the early stages of the Patch 5.4 PTR, though, so expect many more adjustments — as well as more complete explanations of class changes — in the weeks (and perhaps months) to come.

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Amidst the hue and cry over our latest rogue PvP nerf revelation (in Patch 5.3, Cloak and Dagger likely won’t work when Subtlety rogues try to use it during Shadow Dance), WoW PvP honcho Brian Holinka dropped this little nugget:

Holinka and Ghostcrawler have been tweeting like CRAZY over the rogue changes since word of this CnD adjustment got out; read my previous post for a (mostly) complete listing.

Between Twitter, datamining and official patch note updates, the Patch 5.3 rogue change revelations have been pretty rapid-fire lately, so just to recap where we think we’re at right now:

  • Cloak and Dagger will still be usable at 30 yards; the nerf to 20 yards will be reverted. However, rogues will only be able to use CnD while stealthed — this is why it can’t be used during Shadow Dance, because you’re technically not stealthed when ShD is active. (I’m assuming we will also be able to use CnD during Vanish or, for those of us who play a night elf, while Shadowmelded, but I haven’t seen any solid info on this yet.)
  • All the Shuriken Toss changes are still happening. (Energy cost doubles, damage doubles, damage bonus at range removed.)
  • The crowd control glyph nerfs (to Cheap Shot’s stun and Garrote’s silence) are probably still happening. (Aeriwen notes in the class forum that the Glyph of Cheap Shot tooltip hasn’t been updated with the nerf, but it’s still in the official patch notes.)
  • The Find Weakness PvP nerf/PvE buff is still happening.
  • We still haven’t heard a thing from anyone official about the datamined Revealing Strike buff.
  • The Recuperate PvP buff is still happening (though that’s not a rogue-only change; it’s part of the broader PvP Power adjustments the devs are implementing for 5.3).

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[UPDATE 5/4-5/8: Since I first posted this, Holinka clarified the new CnD change and noted that the previous range nerf is being reverted. I've also added a whole mess of additional, related tweets from Holinka and Ghostcrawler at the end of the post.]

Since the most recent Patch 5.3 PTR build yesterday, a number of Subtlety rogue players on the PTR have reported that Cloak and Dagger no longer works while they’re in Shadow Dance. The synergy between these two abilities has been one of the bread-and-butter rogue combos during Patch 5.2, and has helped propel rogues — specifically Subtlety rogues — to the top of the arena heap.

When added to the other changes already in store for Patch 5.3, what we’re seeing is a very clear attempt to 1) tone down rogue burst and CC abilities in general, and 2) try to make Assassination and Combat feel like they’re worth trying in PvP as well (mainly by making Sub less attractive).

PvP chief Brian Holinka and Ghostcrawler let forth a flurry of tweets (many featuring his refreshingly unapologetic tongue-in-cheek humor) in response to the frustration many rogues have expressed with this steady flow of rogue PvP nerfs for Patch 5.3. I shall unleash them on you below the cut; I’m too lazy to set up anchored links so you’ll have to scroll through them, but they’re split roughly into these minicategories:

  • Tweets Clearing Up the CnD Change
  • Offsetting the 5.1 Changes
  • What About Subterfuge?
  • Has Rogue PvP Been Ruined for 5.3?
  • Re-Examining the Mobility Talent Tier (Part I)
  • Re-Examining the Mobility Talent Tier (Part II)
  • Ignorance About Being Ignored
  • What About Patch 5.4?

(more…)

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MMO-Champion and Wowhead have picked up a new Patch 5.3 PTR build, which includes two rogue changes:

  • The Subtlety-only Find Weakness PvP nerf/PvE buff that Brian Holinka tweeted about earlier today is in place, though it’s not yet in the official patch notes. (Instead of 70% armor reduction, it’s now 50% reduction against players and 100% reduction against PvE targets.)
  • Unexpectedly, Combat rogues appear to be getting a fresh DPS bump (and possibly a PvP boost?) in the form of a buff to the duration of Revealing Strike. Everything else about RvS stays the same, but when you use it the buff will last for 24 seconds instead of 18 (a 33% increase). This change hasn’t been confirmed (or even mentioned) by anyone at Blizzard yet, so we may not be seeing the full story yet.

While we won’t fully see the PvP implications of these changes until the new season begins, the PvE implications can be calculated to within an inch of their lives, as the Rogue Code dictates must be so. A couple of players have tinkered with our best simulation tools to see what sort of impact these changes will have on our DPS.

For Subtlety, Dansu posted on the WoW rogue forum that, in SimCraft, the Find Weakness PvE buff amounts to a little more than a 5% DPS increase for the spec — which, in theory at least, puts it basically on the same level as Assassination at very high gear levels (i.e., heroic raid gear with both set bonuses). Fierydemise, one of the brains behind our beloved ShadowCraft rogue-optimizing tool, came to a similar conclusion after modeling the change in that engine.

For Combat, as Fierydemise also noted in the post I just linked, we’re looking at a super-tiny DPS impact if it’s truly going to be implemented solely as it was datamined. The change basically would mean that, in the course of a six-minute raid fight in which you’re on the boss the whole time, you’ll be using RvS instead of Sinister Strike five fewer times than you otherwise would. That’s… barely any effect. RvS deals slightly less damage than SS and has no chance to proc an extra combo point when used, so being able to use SS a few more times is cool, but certainly not a major spec-balance fix — provided you’re already very good at juggling Slice and Dice, Rupture and RvS. If you’re not, then this change potentially becomes a much bigger deal, because it makes that juggling act a little bit easier.

Part of me wonders if, assuming this RvS change really is entirely what was datamined, it isn’t intended mainly to be some sort of PvP buff. Considering Combat is widely panned for competitive PvP at the moment and I haven’t tried it in ages, I have no concept of what impact this change would have in that area. Maybe make kiting have less of an impact?

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