Posts Tagged ‘WoW’

Oddly, the *least* interesting news of the week for rogues was the release of the first update to the official Warlords of Draenor alpha patch notes on April 18. There were no rogue-specific changes in the notes that we hadn’t already known about. This is kind of odd, since we’ve seen datamining *and* Blizzfolk tweets that suggest some pretty noteworthy tweaks have already been made.

Here are the new odds and ends we *have* learned over the past several days, along with a smidge of analysis from y’all’s truly. (I’ll create a single home for the up-to-datest info when I have the chance; right now I’m posting updates sequentially, so some of the stuff in my huge, initial alpha notes post is no longer true.)

Combat AoE: The Changes Are Changing

The initial alpha notes and datamined info included a few bits that all but screamed, “We want Fan of Knives and Crimson Tempest to be part of the Combat spec’s arsenal.” Er, no, sorry, I meant: That all but screamed, “WE WANT FAN OF KNIVES AND CRIMSON TEMPEST TO BE PART OF THE COMBAT SPEC’S ARSENAL!”

The initial batch of leveling perks — which we’ll earn randomly on our way from levels 91 to 99, with each spec getting a different set of perks — included benefits for Combat that made FoK cost less energy and turned CT into a powerful instant-damage finisher instead of a smack-and-bleed.

As was pointed out, though, the FoK energy reduction (from 35 to 25) felt unlikely to be enough on its own to make a difference. The designers apparently agreed — but rather than find a way to make FoK more desirable, they appear to have scrapped the whole idea and buffed Blade Flurry instead.

As of the latest Warlords alpha datamining from Wowhead and MMO-Champion on April 16:

  • Fan of Knives is no longer even in the spellbook for a Combat rogue — it’s labelled as Assassination and Subtlety only.
  • The Combat-only leveling perk that had reduced FoK’s energy cost now does something completely different: It removes the target cap from Blade Flurry entirely.
  • In addition, technical game designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig (whose last name I always feel the urge to spell “Nervigg”) tweeted that Blade Flurry would be able to spread both lethal and non-lethal poisons in Warlords.

Now, yes, this sounds exciting and powerful, it does appear to be an all-around buff to BF, and it’ll also make Combat burst damage look very pretty in some very specific situations. But in regards to the target cap specifically, keep in mind that Blade Flurry currently has a range of just 8 yards (just like FoK), and in the present game we don’t often see that many enemies bunched up together. Certainly not in PvP, and although it happens more often in PvE, it’s usually not in critically important situations (unless we’re trying to, say, solo an achievement).

Meanwhile, it leaves behind an unresolved issue with Crimson Tempest. As things currently stand, Crimson Tempest for Combat uses combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage (but doesn’t apply a bleed) to all nearby enemies. If that description sounds familiar to you, it’s because using Eviscerate with Blade Flurry on will do exactly the same thing: use combo points to generate a large amount of instant physical damage to all nearby enemies.

We know that BF will spread poisons, so regardless of whether CT does the same in Warlords, there’s an obvious question right now regarding how they plan to make choosing between these two AoE finishers more interesting than consulting a guide that tells you which one hits harder.

Other Developments

  • The much-maligned Subtlety-only “Enhanced Premeditation” perk has been scrapped (for now, at least), though it is still showing up in datamining. But the designers still plan to find a way to make Premed into a passive ability without actually making it worse. (As a reminder, the initial plan was to make Ambush and Garrote automatically generate two extra combo points when used from stealth — but *not* when Shadow Dance is active.)

As I mentioned earlier, the new version of the official alpha patch notes don’t include anything we didn’t already know about rogues. The following changes had been previously announced:

  • A note was added to mention that combo points would essentially stack on the rogue — the exact phrasing is “shared across all targets,” which suggests the underlying tech isn’t as simple as “CPs on the rogue,” but barring any bugs or quirks, the effect we experience should be the same.
  • Also now in the notes is the Smoke Bomb nerf: It’ll reduce incoming damage within the area of effect by 10%, down from 20%, to bring it in line with other DPS classes’ defensive raid cooldowns. Celestalon also engaged in some back-and-forth on Twitter to justify the nerf and state that rogues, as well as other DPSers, had many other ways to contribute to raid utility.

Designers Conversate

  • In Twitterland, Celestalon confirmed that a gnome Assassination rogue with Glyph of Energy active and Venom Zest talented would have 163 maximum energy instead of 100.
  • Will its heavy reliance on a newly buffed Deep Insight make Combat almost useless in PvP, especially considering it was already looking dicey thanks to the removal of its damage-over-time spells? Celestalon says they’ll keep an eye on it.
  • Why are efforts being made to reduce Windwalker monk spamminess, yet Combat rogues will still have a half-second global cooldown during Adrenaline Rush? Celestalon suggests uberspam is OK for “temporary effects.” (Personally, I wonder just how “temporary” AdRush will be in Warlords given how Restless Blades and the new cooldown-reduction stat greatly increase the frequency with which we can use it.)
  • The Redirect spell still appears on the Warlords alpha even though it’ll be unnecessary. Lead class designer Kris Zierhut confirmed in an interview with Wowhead at PAX East that it’s definitely going away. (As a person who apparently mains a Feral druid, he also bonded with Wowhead’s content chief Perculia — who mains a rogue — over the impending change to essentially have CPs stack on the player.)

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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.
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(Last updated: April 11. Please note that this post will become increasingly outdated as time goes by. I’ll be compiling an all-inclusive, always-updated page as soon as I’m able; in the meantime, be sure to read my other posts on the alpha patch notes in addition to this one.)

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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