Posts Tagged ‘AoE’

The Twitxchange with Ghostcrawler below pokes at an issue I’m still working through: How “different” should the three rogue spec rotations feel in PvE?



This back-and-forth is part of the much larger exchange of tweets we’ve seen about the upcoming Blade Flurry changes in Patch 5.2, which started out as a flat 75% copied-damage reduction and currently stands as a 60% reduction that will now apply to as many as four nearby targets instead of just one.

The final point Ghostcrawler makes in the exchange above raises what, for me, is an intriguing question over how important it is that our three rogue specs have different rotations. Combat’s upcoming Blade Flurry changes will further entrench three surprisingly different AoE damage approaches for the three specs:

  • Assassination: Fan of Knives + Tab-Rupture (keeping the bleed on multiple targets to maximize energy regen for more FoKs)
  • Combat: Blade Flurry (plus Killing Spree and AdRush for fun burst)
  • Subtlety: Fan of Knives + Crimson Tempest (still amazing to type that; it’s an all-AoE rotation! for a ROGUE!)

I realize there’s room for debate over the optimal AoE “rotation” for Assassination (i.e., whether/when Slice and Dice and Envenom should come into play), but we’re still talking three distinct approaches. If making the rogue specs “feel” different in multi-target situations was a design goal, 5.2 will mark a huge success.

The ultimate rogue rotation: Set it and forget it!

But I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, and ask: What’s the point of this success? (I had originally written a paragraph here arguing that the three specs have distinctly different single-target rotations as well, but it got too bogged down in specifics and I drifted away from this central question, so I may save that for another day.) Why is it so important that the rogue *rotations* — be they single-target or multi-target — be different from spec to spec? How is that a valuable intrinsic quality of the class?

I realize there are a fair number — maybe even a large number — of rogue players out there who are steadfastly loyal to a particular spec. Whether it’s the playstyle or the (loosely associated) lore, they identify themselves by the spec as much as the class as a whole. They’re not just rogues — they’re *Combat* (or Mut, or Sub) rogues.

But what is it that makes a *player* a Combat (or whatever) rogue? If you ask players to list the qualities of their favorite spec, how many will focus on mechanics — the ability to toggle Killing Spree, the fun of using Shadow Dance, the sheer thrill that comes with the knowledge that 40% of your damage comes passively from Deadly Poison? (Sorry, sorry — couldn’t help it. Assassination is actually my favorite spec.)

Or is the answer to the question a little more emotional, more aesthetic, than that? I don’t prefer Assassination because I think Envenom is a clever way to actively increase our passive damage (oops, paradox) and separate less-skilled players from more skilled players. (Actually, I think Assassination fails to deliver on that front, but that’s another topic.) Or because I like the incorporation of Rupture for energy regen. Or because I think Vendetta is a fun cooldown. Or because of *any* particular ability or talent.

Assassination: Little. Yellow. Different.

No, I like Assassination the most because it “feels” different. Mutilate is the most expensive CP builder we have; as a result, Assassination has the slowest rotation by far, because a chunk of time is often spent waiting for energy to regen so we can Mutilate again. And I *like* that. It gives me time to look at what’s happening in the raid around me, to think more about where I’m standing and where I should be standing (and where I’ll need to be standing in a few seconds). I’ve always felt that the weaving of Mutilates, well-timed Envenoms and Ruptures makes the Assassination rotation feel like a dance — ironic, since Subtlety is the spec that actually has a (Shadow) Dance in it.

But despite that, I don’t consider myself an “Assassination rogue.” If the Assassination spec were to lose that “dance” feel, I wouldn’t suddenly stop playing the class. I’m a WoW player who enjoys playing a rogue more than other classes primarily because of the stealth/strategy component, not because of how particular mechanics play. And I worry that, if Blizzard devs continue to prioritize efforts to define and balance what essentially is three distinct rogue *classes* — each with its own unique mechanics — that we’re not going to get back to a place where rogues as a whole feel fresh and distinct. We can’t, because we’re too busy trying to tease out what’s fresh and distinct between each individual spec — as well as maintaining balance not only between the three rogue specs, but between rogues and other classes on the whole.

I’m not sure whether this makes me a fan of the idea of having only a single rogue DPS spec for the entire class, or whether it just means I wish that aesthetics, not mechanics, could be all that truly defines the differences between the specs. (Combat’s unique ability to dual-wield slow weapons would be one example here.) I just know that I’m not comfortable with the idea that each rogue spec has to have its mechanical niche. I worry that class design and balance suffer as a result.


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(I’ve added some clarifications, in italics, based on GC’s subsequent comments.)

Ghostcrawler took to the official WoW PTR Discussion forum to start up a new discussion thread where he can answer questions (and to provide a single spot for players to provide feedback) specifically regarding class mechanics and set bonuses in Patch 5.2. This is basically a new edition of the amazing “Class Balance Analysis” threads (one, two) that Ghostcrawler and other CMs took part in during the Mists of Pandaria beta, in which he answered a huge number of questions regarding how (and why) certain changes were being made to the way our classes and specs work, as well as how those specific changes actually worked.

Now that I’ve put you to sleep with that incredibly long-winded background, here’s the first bit of rogue-specific clarifying info that Ghostcrawler provided in the thread:

  • We are still iterating on Blade Flurry. We feel like the implementation of Blade Flurry on live forces rogues to go Combat on any cleave fights, while leaving Combat too far behind on any single target fights. It’s fine if the rogue specs have niches, but the niches shouldn’t be so rigid that you don’t feel like you have any choice in spec. Blade Flurry will be how Combat does 2-5 target AoE damage. In the next PTR build, it deals 40% of normal damage to up to 4 additional targets, for a 20% energy regen reduction. [Ruffy’s Note 1/11: GC quickly clarified “normal” to mean “the same as it previously did; that is to say, the damage that the ability would have done had it hit the secondary target.”]
  • The Rogue 2T15 bonus does apply to all finishers with a duration, including Slice and Dice, Kidney Shot, Recuperate, Envenom, and Rupture. In build 16446, the Kidney Shot increase was broken, but is fixed for the next build. [Ruffy’s Note 1/11: GC later added, “The 2pc does encourage using Rupture as Combat.”]

I’m no theorycrafter, so I’ll leave it to the experts to work out whether this latest planned de-nerf to Blade Flurry’s cleave will be enough to alleviate concerns that Combat will be shunned in end-game PvE during the next patch due to its lack of unique value compared to the other specs.

The clarification on the two-piece Tier 15 set bonus certifies that it’s not intended to make Eviscerate or Crimson Tempest hit harder, which makes some sense given what I think the set bonuses as a whole are intended to do: Increase our active damage on single-target fights without unbalancing the specs. (I’ve vomited forth a bunch of thoughts on this idea over at Elitist Jerks, and have high hopes that my logic will be mercilessly ripped to shreds shortly.)

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(Updates are at the bottom of the post.)

Amidst a sea of buffs, talent redesigns and sweet-looking PvP-oriented changes impacting rogues, the Patch 5.2 preview notes feature a big ol’ honkin’ iceberg: a 75% nerf to the damage Blade Flurry deals to its second target. As Combat rogues everywhere rent their garments in fury, Ghostcrawler took to Twitter to address one representative member of the frenzied masses:

This by no means constitutes a promise that we’ll see a buff to Fan of Knives, Crimson Tempest or some other element of Combat’s gameplay that might increase its ability to deal AoE damage. But it at least means the class design team is aware of the potential that Combat is about to go from feeling required on two-target fights to feeling downright shunned on any fight in which there’s more than one target within melee range.


UPDATE 12/29-31: Ghostcrawler, apparently fresh back from his vacation, responded to a slew of tweets this weekend, including these:

Obviously, “massive” is a subjective term. Judging by the early patch 5.2 preview notes, it would appear that the design team’s current rule of thumb is that the difference shouldn’t be more than a 10% DPS increase or so. (Aldriana recently theorized that, as the patch 5.2 notes currently stand, the DPS boost from Blade Flurry in ideal situations would be 8%, but I’m not sure whether he took into account the 5% attack power increase Combat is slated to get through a Vitality buff.)

That most recent tweet gets at a good question, and one you and I are not in a good position to answer (unless you are a member of the Blizzard team working on WoW, anyway). I don’t feel that Simcraft or WoL/Raidbots are sufficient at this point (if they ever were) for determining exactly what the “real-world” DPS difference is between equally geared, equally skilled, equally buffed Assassination and Combat rogues who are each executing optimal rotations. Blizz likely knows that better than any of us do.

It’s also entirely possible that — and I’m just tossing this out there — Combat and Subtlety are both already *very* close in single-target DPS performance. And these buffs, small as they are, are meant more to create the perception of greater viability among us players so that we will feel more willing to experiment with specs other than Assassination in the upcoming raid tier.

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@esbgame: “@Ghostcrawler Do you think abilities such as Destro Rain of Fire or Halo should break Rogue’s stealth? And if so why? It’s too easy to break”

@Ghostcrawler: “@esbgame I would love to see only Flare and a few others break stealth, but that’s a potentially destabilizing change.”

Twitterized 11/21/2012

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‏@HenrikSvendsen3: “@Ghostcrawler As a rouge i have problems getting a clean opner in arena and duel because of the amount of aoe effects in the game. toughts?”

@Ghostcrawler: “@HenrikSvendsen3 TBH, it kind of bugs me personally that AEs are so efficient at breaking stealth. Would be a huge change to revert though.”

Twitterized 11/16/2012

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