Just when your spellbook thought it was safe to come out of your virtual desk drawer…
WHAM. Edward Scissorhands strikes again.
Yep, those gasps you heard late in the evening on June 13 were the dying breaths of seven more rogue spells (along with dozens of other additional spells that were removed across all classes), which became official with the latest update to the official Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes.
Odds are you won’t miss most of these spells very much, though: many of them were passive, and in most cases their effects will be folded into (or compensated by) other abilities.
The new edition of the Alpha notes also includes several other spell adjustments, none of which appear groundbreaking. Here’s a rundown and some half-assed analysis of the changes:
Newly Snipped — For Reals
- Expose Armor. This much-maligned ability was made easier to use for the current Mists expansion, but still not as easy as identical armor-reduction debuffs that other classes were able to apply (e.g., warriors’ Sunder Armor; druids’ Faerie Fire). In Warlords, it will be escorted to its final resting place as part of a redesign of raid debuffs that affects all classes.The official patch notes are confusing here: They say only that Expose Armor “no longer applies Weakened Armor.” But seeing as that was literally all that Expose Armor did, the removal of EA’s ability to apply Weakened Armor basically means it doesn’t exist. (And in fact, when I log into the Alpha on my rogue, EA doesn’t currently appear in my spellbook.)
- Master Poisoner. A passive ability that all rogues currently get at Level 64, this causes any target we’ve poisoned to take 5% additional spell damage. It’s being removed as part of the across-the-board debuff changes I mentioned above. (Lest you fear this will reduce our value in raids, read at the end of this post about how Swiftblade’s Cunning is being buffed.)
- Shadow Walk. Unless you’re big on PvP, your most likely reaction to this will be:https://twitter.com/wavefunctionp/status/477568657787469824In the current (live) game, it’s a cooldown we get at Level 72 that we can use, once every minute, to increase the effectiveness of our stealth for 6 seconds. A number of PvP rogues (particularly those who play Subtlety) saw value in it, and it had situational use when soloing PvE content, but many were surprised it survived the first round of spellbook pruning months ago, particularly in the context of Blizzard’s desire to ratchet down the PvP “arms race” regarding crowd control and tools we could use to overcome/avoid it.
Newly Snipped — But Only Sort Of
These spell removals appear to mostly be about removing spell-name clutter, and taking advantage of what looks like the ability of WoW’s programmers to design more “if” scenarios directly into spells, instead of designing new spells that modify those spells. It’s kind of like if, instead of us having to put on roller blades in order to use them, they just sprouted naturally out of our existing shoes.
- Blindside — kind of. Assassination rogues will still have a chance to proc a free Dispatch whenever they Mutilate. The proc just isn’t called “Blindside” anymore; it’s simply a free Dispatch. No indication about whether any other aspects of free Dispatch will change (like the amount of time you have to use it before it fades away).
- Cut to the Chase — sorta. This is the Assassination-only, Level 60 passive ability that causes our Envenom to refresh Slice and Dice. The spell itself is going away, but the ability of Envenom to refresh SnD is staying. No word on whether it will also begin to work for rogues *below* Level 60, though that would be a nice little quality-of-life improvement for those leveling as Mut.
- Master of Subtlety — ish. This Subtlety-only, Level 10 passive ability gives Sub rogues a 10% damage buff on abilities they use while stealthed and for 6 seconds afterward. They won’t lose that buff — it just no longer is called “Master of Subtlety.” Instead it’s baked directly into stealth for Sub rogues.
- Safe Fall — but not really. Our glorious ability to take less fall damage than the average bear will live on — as part of Fleet Footed, the passive spell all rogues get at Level 62, which increases our movement speed by 15%.
Spell Damage Calculations Adjusted
One of the priorities for WoW’s spell designers as they work on Warlords has been trimming away some unneeded complexity in the way that spells work “under the hood.” For much of the past expansion (and then some), players have often complained of horrible lag spikes in raid situations, even when their Internet connections are stable and their ping times are low. Designers traced much of this problem to the way that a number of spells were programmed, and have since set about trying to simplify those spells where it made sense to do so.
I’m not certain about this, but we may be seeing the results of those efforts in these two June 13 changes to the official Warlords alpha notes (it’s also possible the designers simply want to tweak the way these abilities are balanced):
- Killing Spree (Combat). At the moment, in addition to its stab-every-half-second-for-3.5-seconds schtick, KS buffs your damage by 50% while it’s active. That buff is being removed — but the ability’s damage will be rebalanced to take that into account, so the net result should basically be the same.
- Main Gauche (Combat). Francophones rejoice — this ability will once again do exactly what its name implies! Main Gauche — which literally translates to “left hand” in French — is Combat’s Level-80 mastery. It’s a passive spell that gives main-hand attacks a chance proc an additional, free autoattack equal to 120% of a main-hand autoattack. In Warlords, this’ll be changed to deal off-hand weapon damage — in other words, for the 90% of the planet that is right-handed, “left-hand” weapon damage. (Lest you worry the switch from main-hand to off-hand damage is a nerf, the patch notes state that the damage will be buffed to compensate.)This change is potentially interesting, because depending on how it’s balanced, it could tilt the very delicate balance between daggers and non-daggers as off-hand weapons for Combat rogues. Right now, the two weapon types are virtually identical in terms of their DPS potential (though slow weapons come out on top at very high gear levels). The way this change looks at the moment, it might make slow weapons feel required for Combat, due to the greater damage they’d cause when Main Gauche procs. Worth keeping an eye on as the Alpha progresses to see what the designers choose to do here.
And Then There’s Maude
Rounding out the rogue-specific adjustments in the June 13 update to the official WoD Alpha patch notes are these two bits:
- Venomous Wounds no longer triggers from Garrote. This will finally put to rest the mostly irrelevant debate over whether a raiding Assassination rogue should open on the boss with Garrote or Ambush. (The answer, by the way, is neither: Mutilate’s better than Ambush, but only by a teeny bit.) The passive, Level-50 ability, which is what makes Assassination’s bleeds actually worth using (by randomly dealing additional damage and refunding energy when it procs), will only work with Rupture in WoD.
- Swiftblade’s Cunning now also grants 5% Multistrike. This enhancement to our raid buff — in Warlords, Swiftblade will increase our new multistrike stat by 5% for us and our fellow party/raid members — appears intended to offset the loss of the Master Poisoner spell I mentioned way up near the top of this bloggy post. (Note that in the current live game, Swiftblade increases melee/ranged attack speed by 10% for our fellow party/raid members. That’s being changed in Warlords to buff haste instead — which, incidentally, means a buff to our energy regeneration rate in parties/raids as well.)