Posts Tagged ‘talents’

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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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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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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[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?


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[UPDATE 5/3: This change appears to have been reverted -- or will soon be reverted -- on the PTR, and replaced with a different CnD nerf.]

[UPDATE 4/29: Since first posting this, I've added two tweets to the bottom of the post -- one affirming there are no changes in the works for Shadowstep, the other warning that they may not be done quite yet with the Cloak and Dagger nerfs. I also tweaked the second paragraph to note that the change made it into the official patch notes; it was just a datamine from 4/25 until 4/29.]

Remember how last night I wrote that the Blizzard class design folks were thinking about a possible Cloak and Dagger change? Welp, looks like they’re done thinking, and are actually implementing one: According to the newest datamined info from the Patch 5.3 PTR (as found by Wowhead and MMO-Champion), the level-60 talent option has had its range reduced from 30 yards to 20 yards.

This has yet to be confirmed in the official patch notes, but was confirmed in an April 29 update to the official Patch 5.3 PTR notes. Even before they became officially official (in an official way), though, PvP honcho Brian Holinka had tipped us off when he tweeted earlier they were considering a tweak to CnD so that other options in that tier might become a little more attractive to competitive PvPers.

If this is indeed the tweak Blizzard has decided on, it suggests that the designers’ main issue with CnD is not merely its burst potential when coupled with Shadow Dance, but specifically the synergy of that burst with the teleport. A decrease in the ability’s range equals a decrease in rogue mobility, and makes it likely that a rogue will have to do more than just pop CnD to resume unloading on a mage who just used Blink (which, as it happens, teleports the mage 20 yards away).

Of course, the range on Shadowstep thus far remains unchanged, which is part of the point: to make the level-60 talent tier a more interesting choice for PvPers.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether a nerf (in addition to the other three nerfs we know are already planned for rogue PvP in 5.3 — to Shuriken Toss, Glyph of Cheap Shot and Glyph of Garrote) to a wildly popular new talent is the best way to go about this, and what impact it has on rogue viability in high-end PvP in the next patch. Reaction in the official WoW rogue forum has been mixed thus far.

[UPDATE 4/25:] To those who might wish Shadowstep (or Burst of Speed) were getting a buff instead of CnD getting a nerf, Holinka has this to say:

[UPDATE 4/26:] And for those of you hoping this is the end of the road for nerfs, keep that breath held in tight:

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[UPDATE 4/25: A Patch 5.3 datamine and subsequent tweets appear to show that Cloak and Dagger has indeed been tweaked -- and that further ability changes may be coming as well.]

When they added Cloak and Dagger to our level-60 talent tier in Patch 5.2 (where it replaced Preparation, which became a baseline ability), Ghostcrawler and Daxxarri explained the move like thus-ish:

Combined with dropping out of combat to re-stealth, Shadow Dance, and the Subterfuge talent, we expect that it can be used to accomplish some pretty interesting things.

And boy howdy, were they right. The burst opportunity offered by CnD coupled with Shadow Dance helped catapult our Subtlety spec back into the PvP stratosphere, and served as one of the driving forces behind rogues’ sudden resurgence in competitive PvP over the past two months.

Perhaps inevitably, it also resulted in this:

Blizzfolk have stated, time and again, that they don’t want 1) everybody ignoring a talent in a given tier or 2) everybody taking the same talent in a given tier. CnD is the only talent worth considering for Sub rogues in PvP, and Sub is pretty much the only PvP game in town right now, so it’s not a surprise that the designers are considering a change.

I’m skeptical this is the way to go. The crowd-control nerfs already in store for rogues in 5.3 could impact their PvP viability, and the PvE trinket changes will already tone down some burst for those who use it. A nerf to CnD (which I’d figure would most likely involve adding a cooldown, though they could also alter its range or change the abilities it can be used with) at this stage feels like it might be overkill given that the full impact of the already-planned changes is unknown.

It’s also an oft-used Blizzard mantra that they try to nerf only as a last resort, because they generally feel so unsatisfying for players. What might be more interesting, if overpopularity of CnD is a concern, is to make a couple of improvements to the other movement abilities in that talent tier — reduce Shadowstep’s cooldown, perhaps, or allow Burst of Speed to break roots.

Of course, what Holinka could be implying with his tweet is that CnD may be changed to make it attractive to *other* specs in addition to Sub. Or to help make the other two specs a little more viable in high-end PvP — perhaps by allowing the rogue to restealth in the process of teleporting, or by adding Envenom/Eviscerate (or Mutilate/Sinister Strike) to the list of abilities it can be used for, though none of those ideas feel particularly well-balanced to me.

But I’m just a PvE player. What do I know of such things? If any of you out there are avid PvPers, I’d be eager for some edumucation on a reasonable approach to CnD’s overuse (and what can realistically be done about it in the short term).

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I daresay some rogues would beg to differ.

It’s been several months now since the Mists parted — and took Cold Blood with them, along with many other abilities from our old talent trees — but a number of players are still pining over its loss (among others).

Personally, I don’t miss it much. As a casual-but-committed raider from late Wrath through Cata, I found Cold Blood a hassle: I felt required to weave it into my rotation because it was a DPS loss not to, but despite having to watch that cooldown timer like a hawk and properly time its use with a 5-combo-point Envenom/Eviscerate, the ability had precious little impact on my overall damage output. I never saw its value, though I could envision usefulness in PvP when a guaranteed crit could mean the difference between life and death.

That said, I’m surprised to see it referred to as “passive” and “talent fodder.” It was an actual button you had to push, after all, and it had always seemed like a pretty iconic ability for Assassination rogues even for those of us who didn’t like it overly much.

This isn’t the first time GC has tweeted about Cold Blood, incidentally; several months back he also panned it for having contributed to rogues’ devaluation of critical strike rating. (I’d argue that low EP values had a little more to do with that, but to each his own. :) )

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I’ve got some catching up to do with Ghostcrawler rogue tweets; leave it to a cold to snot away a normally-obsessive-compulsive person’s motivation for twitstalking. This one’s from more than a week ago:


Without a doubt, it’s looking like our level-90 talent tier options in Patch 5.2 will be much closer (in terms of their value) in raids and challenge-mode dungeons. Shuriken Toss will allow us to autoattack at range, dramatically increasing its power, and Marked for Death’s five free combo points per minute provides us with a nice little active-DPS bump that may be especially useful for burst situations.

But is either change enough to unseat Anticipation as the talent of choice in end-game PvE?

The gist of the feedback over at Elitist Jerks is that few expect ST or MfD to win out. I’m no whiz-bang theorycrafter, but I’m inclined to agree: It’s hard for me to envision many scenarios in which, *over the course of an entire raid fight*, it would be more valuable for me to

  1. deal decent DPS at range or
  2. gain 5 extra CPs per minute,

instead of using Anticipation, which guarantees me that I will

  1. almost never waste a combo point and
  2. never have to settle for a four-point finisher instead of a five-point finisher.

As of this post, we know next to nothing about most fights in the upcoming raid tier, so there is always a possibility that a surprising number of fight mechanics will favor the buffed ST or the new MfD. But I was one of a number of rogues who, back in the Mists beta, said the same thing about ST and our soon-to-be-dearly-departed level-90 talent Versatility. “But wait!” said I, I said. “Who knows how many raid fights in Mists will require a huge amount of target switching! Or constant running around at range like a maniac?”

I did a Google image search for “maniac.” This came up. How could I not?

The answer turned out to be: Basically none. Or, at least, not enough of a given raid fight required those things to make it more valuable to choose the “old” ST or Versatility over Anticipation.

Maybe that experience has made me more cynical this time around, and I’m being unfair in my negativity. Then again:

For Shuriken Toss — buffed or not — to be more desirable than Anticipation in a given raid fight, it likely means that the fight itself needs to be brutally unfriendly to melee DPS. Designing a fight like that feels like it’d be fundamentally against Blizzard’s current approach to encounter design, which is to allow for a wide range of classes to be viable.

For Marked for Death to be more desirable than Anticipation, we’d need to gain more DPS through getting a magically full CP bar once per minute than we would by never losing a combo point. In most standard fights, that feels unlikely to happen. *Especially* not for Assassination rogues, who gain two CPs (and sometimes three, thanks to Seal Fate) every time they use Mutilate, thus guaranteeing that they’ll be Envenoming at 4 CPs without Anticipation.

But it’s not just Assassination rogues who lose out if they drop Anticipation. Our new-in-Mists DPS cooldown, Shadow Blades (which adds an extra CP onto every CP-building move we use), ensures that other specs lose out, too. Shadow Blades all but requires Anticipation if we want to use it to maximum effectiveness; otherwise we’re either wasting CPs while it’s active, or we’re using smaller finishers.

The only scenario in which I can see MfD potentially being worth that kind of trade-off is a fight that involves a tremendous amount of target switching or a lot of spawning/despawning targets, such that we don’t have a lot of uptime on our targets (reducing the effectiveness of Shadow Blades and reducing the number of CPs we even have the opportunity to gain on our targets). In that scenario, being able to guarantee a quick 5-CPs-and-BAM could be pretty handy. Especially if burst matters.

Let’s kick this rogue up another notch!

But, for the same reason it seems unlikely that we’re going to see raid fights that punish melee DPS enough to make Shuriken Toss the best choice, it feels unlikely we’re going to see raid fights that punish DPS who can’t frequently switch targets all that well.

It may be that the best we can really hope for in Patch 5.2 is that, for those of us who *do* choose to go with Shuriken Toss or MfD on raid fights because we find those abilities more fun to use than Anticipation, our DPS won’t suffer quite as much for our decision as it would have before Patch 5.2.

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