Posts Tagged ‘Subtlety’

Inscrutable headlines ftw!

This is what happens when I put off updates for too long: THINGS. SO MANY OF THE THINGS.

A gaggle of notable rogue players are now running around willy-nilly in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and learning all sorts of odds and ends about how our class appears to be playing so far. A couple of them — Rzn and Haileaus — are even streaming their Alpha bits all over the Twitchesphere. But for the purposes of this post, I will now pretend that this momentous occasion has not yet occurred, so that we can focus here on the same stuff we focused on in my earlier updates: “official” statements, clarifications on Twitter and datamining.

I realize this is all getting awfully unwieldy: Five separate update posts in addition to my initial rundown of class changes does not make for a neat, pretty picture. At the moment, the best all-in-one recap by far is over at Wowhead, where Perculia and Olivia Grace have teamed up to take most of the bits and pieces we’ve learned about Warlords rogues and tie them up into a neat package.

If you just want a look at what we’ve learned in the past two weeks (not including player observations from within the Alpha), here’s what went down specifically in relation to rogues in Warlords:

Datamining Teases Possible Raid Set Bonuses

Although we’ve been warned by WoW’s designers not to take these remotely seriously, the first datamined glimpse of possible set bonuses for Tier 17 raid gear and PvP gear — spotted by Wowhead and MMO-Champion on June 10 — range from dull (Combat/Subtlety two-piece) to interesting (Subtlety four-piece) and perplexing-because-it’s-likely-a-typo (Assassination’s two-piece appears to buff a hunter ability, which is about as insulting as you can get.)

Quoting Wowhead — and again, remember, this is datamining that WoW’s designers have warned us are almost entirely just placeholders right now:

No Assassination PvE four-piece bonus appears to have been datamined.

Spec “Attunements” Datamined

Another noteworthy rogue-specific tidbit from the June 10 datamining (the rest of which appear to mostly be tooltip corrections, typos and in-progress adjustments that aren’t worth trying to analyze) is this set of “Attunements” that passively boost the value of one of our secondary stats when we hit Level 90.

Again quoting Wowhead, our Attunements currently appear to be:

  • Mastery Attunement [Assassination]: You gain 5% more of the Mastery stat from all sources.
  • Haste Attunement [Combat]: You gain 5% more of the Haste stat from all sources.
  • Multistrike Attunement [Subtlety]: You gain 5% more of the Multistrike stat from all sources.

Don’t be surprised to see these change significantly as the WoD Alpha (and Beta) progresses. Something feels odd about a passive buff being granted to a single secondary stat, which feels like it would inherently increase that stat’s value relative to the others — something that goes directly against designers’ repeatedly stated goal for Warlords that they wished to keep secondary stats close to one another in value.

There has also been no official comment regarding whether we need to have first obtained a Shadowforge Key in order to unlock these attunements. (HYUK!)

On Combat Swapping Autoattack Buffs

In the last update, I noted that the Ambidexterity passive was being removed from Combat, which — as stated within the official patch notes — “was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks.” Which is a lovely sentiment, but one that gets muddied a bit given that Combat is also getting a perk called Improved Dual Wield, which removes the 19% reduced hit chance we suffer by default for using a pair of one-handed weapons — and thus increases our autoattack damage. Rogue theorycrafter Fierydemise took to Twitter to call attention to this; technical game designer Chadd “Celtictron” Nervig parried the debate.

Sap Stays Sappy

PvP honcho Brian “Holinka” Holinka affirms that, despite upcoming adjustments to other forms of crowd control, Sap’s duration is not likely to change.

Band-Aids vs. Knives

Holinka also rebuffed a request to combine Slice and Dice with Recuperate, saying it’s a good choice to force players to choose between offense and defense. (Nevermind Leeching Poison. Speaking of which…)

Versatility Won’t Uber-Boost Leeching Poison

Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas noted that Versatility, the newly announced secondary stat that will enhance our healing and damage absorption in addition to our damage output, won’t allow Leeching Poison to “double dip.” (Because Leeching is a self-heal that is based off of the amount of damage we deal, it could theoretically benefit from Versatility twice unless the designers do something to stop it — which they apparently plan to do.)

Main Gauche Still Combat’s Main Man

Even though the Multistrike stat will give our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage, Nervig says the designers have no plans to change Combat’s mastery, Main Gauche — which also gives some of our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage. He notes that they’re open to revisiting the issue, however.

Pre-Potting Won’t Break Stealth

Nervig gave a straightforward answer to a request that drinking a potion would no longer break a rogue’s stealth: “Yes.”

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In the week and a half since my last update, we’ve seen a flurry of conversations with WoW game designers on Twitter (a Blade Flurry, some might say, ahahaha, ahaha, ha), but no major new developments to (or alterations in) our planned class changes, and only an incremental nudge in our understanding of the changes that are planned.

In thoroughly bullet-riddled form, here’s what we’ve learned since April 20:

  • Backstab’s positional requirement: Technical game designer Chadd “Cellphonealon” Nervig stood bravely against a storm of players that mercilessly flung tweet after tweet at his kneecaps regarding the design team’s decision to remove positional requirements for the feral druid abilities Ravage and Shred and the rogue ability Ambush — but to continue to forbid the use of Backstab from the front (though side attacks will be okie dokie). Quoth the dragon, they have chosen not to allow a facial Backstab due to “iconicness” and “how well the gameplay and ability fits the Subtlety kit.”In the same conversation, Nervig affirmed that Backstab is intended to be more powerful than Hemorrhage, and should be the preferred ability to use unless attacking from the front or “if backloading damage is more useful than frontloading” (a reference, I assume, to Hemo’s damage-over-time component)
  • Subtlety’s DPS reward: Nervig confirmed that because the Subtlety DPS rotation is so hard to execute perfectly, the spec is given a little extra bump when it’s balanced against other classes/specs. The implication here is that, if you’re able to maximize the spec’s potential, you will outshine everyone else in the damage meters. (Well, except for any other difficult specs that have been similarly compensated — Nervig implied that feral druids get the same treatment.)
  • Enhanced Premeditation — GONE: Because clearly not enough people have gotten the message yet, Nervig fielded two separate complaints about the Enhanced Premeditation perk — the one that they already announced weeks ago was being scrapped. Try passing along word of this reverted change via a fun game of telephone with friends! See if you can start with “They’re getting rid of the Enhanced Premeditation perk, so you can stop screaming about how horrible it is” and end up with “Celestalon is a big stupidface and porkchop diner muffin lady.”
  • Venom Zest won’t be so bad: Nervig pushed back against the notion that the Level 100 talent Venom Zest (increase maximum energy by 15, increase energy regen 5% for each of up to 3 enemies you poison) is crappier than the other options in the tier.
  • Shadow Dance cooldown unchanged: It’ll still be 1 minute in Warlords, Nervig said — though Readiness (one of our new secondary stats) will reduce it.
  • Energy regen rates unchanged: We’ll still regenerate 10 energy per second at baseline, with our haste levels increasing that rate. Nervig implied that the haste-conversion rate is unchanged as well, but did not explicitly state it.
  • Rogue autoattack damage is not a problem: Nervig said that none of the rogue specs have a “hugely” high chunk of their damage coming from autoattacks, suggesting that no major changes on this front are planned.
  • Make us pretty! Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas said that they could “definitely do more” to make rogues “feel more epic” when using our melee abilities. That’s pretty much the same thing we’ve been hearing from designers for more than a year now: They feel our aesthetic pain, but aren’t making any promises about a makeover.
  • Don’t expect mobility talent changes: PvP designer Brian “Holinka” Holinka, a.k.a. Holinka, pushed back against the notion that our Level 60 talent tier needs any serious adjustments — or that rogue mobility is currently suffering.
  • Slice and Dice is here to stay for Sub: It requires skill to juggle, Nervig notes.
  • Reading datamined tooltips? Bring many grains of salt: Nervig reminds everyone that any numerical or formula changes we see to abilities mean basically nothing at this point — and that we certainly can’t draw any conclusions about whether those changes are a “nerf” or a “buff.” Particularly not for an expansion like Warlords, in which so much is being dramatically altered about class and spec balance as a whole.

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

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

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

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

So. To supplement my post last week summarizing (nearly) all of the rogue info in the first alpha novel — a masterfully organized, but depressingly ugly and text-heavy, tour de force of bullet points and explanations — I will now unceremoniously dump a scattershot list of (nearly) all the rogue-relevant odds and ends we learned over the past several days.
(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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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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