Posts Tagged ‘Blade Flurry’

This Warlords datamining update is cross-posted on Ravenholdt, the very bestest rogue class fansite in the history of ever.

A pair of new Warlords of Draenor beta builds — 18967 and 18973, for those of you keeping score at home — have brought a host of tuning adjustments for the rogue class (among others). Alongside these builds, a series of tweets from technical game designer Chadd “Cobra-thon” Nervig clarified, and explained some of the reasoning behind, several of the changes.

Let’s recap, shall we?

[NOTE: When this was posted on Ravenholdt, Celestalon replied via Twitter to state that some of the adjustments listed below are already due to be changed in an upcoming beta build. Tuning is fast, furious and fluid in these last couple of weeks before Patch 6.0.2 launches.]

Assassination’s damage appears to have been adjusted upward. Most of its key abilities have gotten roughly 5% stronger since last week, if the datamining is accurate:

  • Mutilate deals 210% weapon damage, up from 200%.
  • Dispatch deals 330% weapon damage, up from 315%.
  • The random-damage component of Venemous Wounds deals damage equivalent to 33.6% of our attack power stat, up from 32%.
  • Envenom damage has been boosted by 5%.

There is one downward shift that affects Assassination: Rupture’s damage has taken an 18% hit.

Combat’s damage appears to have been nudged downward, if the datamining is accurate:

  • Eviscerate’s damage has been reduced by about 18%.
  • Blade Flurry’s damage has been reduced by 25%; it copies 30% of our damage onto nearby targets, down from 40%.
  • Ambush’s damage has been reduced by roughly 18%; it deals 245% weapon damage, down from 300%.

These changes come one week after substantial buffs to Sinister Strike and Revealing Strike; taken together, we’re seeing a notable shift in the proportion of Combat’s overall damage that comes from combo point builders vs. finishers.

On Twitter, incidentally, Celestalon confirmed that the Eviscerate change is meant to bring Combat’s overall damage more in line with their goals, and noted that the Blade Flurry change was intended.

Subtlety’s damage also appears to have been reduced (again), if the datablah is bloo:

  • Last week’s buff to Backstab has been reverted, and then some: It’s now at 145% weapon damage, down from 175% — and also down from 156%, where it had been prior to *last* week’s changes.
  • As noted above, Ambush’s damage has been reduced by about 18%.
  • Also as noted above, Eviscerate damage has been reduced by 18% as well.
  • Also-also as noted (further) above, it looks like Rupture damage may have gotten an 18% cut. But I’m less confident about this one without direct beta testing or a Blizzfolk statement to confirm it, though obviously the number would be consistent with other cuts.

On Twitter, Celestalon affirmed that heavy slashes to Subtlety were intended; according to him, the spec was performing 15% better than the rest of the pack (except for feral druids, which he said had been similarly overpowered and were also toned downward in this week’s beta builds).

Finally, one all-spec change: Crimson Tempest has been… buffed? We think? Datamining seemed to indicate that the ability had taken an 18% damage reduction, but Celestalon stated that the ability was actually having its up-front and DoT damage *increased* by 50%. Maybe an erroneous tooltip change, given how many other rogue abilities had been chopped by 18% at the same time?

Regardless, if the datamined changes to all three specs are accurate, then the overall adjustments to DPS would be as follows, per Fierydemise:

Keep in mind that regardless of the impact of these particular beta builds, all of these adjustments are part of the designers’ ongoing effort to pull various levers in order to get the performance of all specs and classes within whatever their target range is. Although I often refer to these tweaks as “buffs” and “nerfs,” it’s probably better not to think of them precisely that way, given that balance has to be completely redone in the switch from Mists to Warlords. As with every expansion, the scales are being reset.

Quick closing note: Celestalon also tweeted quite a bit about Death From Above this evening, responding to Fierydemise’s blog post from earlier in the week. The easiest way to see the collection of these — and all of Celestalon’s rogue-related tweets — is to check out @Ravenholdt’s favorites list, which we update whenever we spot a new class-relevant tweet from a member of Blizzard’s WoW team.


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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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So concludes my sorry attempt to tie a little teeny possible development in the lives of Combat rogues into the much bigger development that broke this week in the lives of many WoW raiders.

On to the quasi-news!

Thursday on Twitter, we got our first glimpse into plans in the works to make something happen that lovers of the rogue Combat spec have long clamored for: the ability to force Killing Spree to only attack a single target, even if other targets are within range.

At present, Killing Spree is random: While it’s active, you’ll perform a total of seven attacks within 3.5 seconds on targets within a 10-yard range. That could mean one attack on seven different targets; it could mean seven attacks on a single target; the point is, you have zero control over it. Given that Killing Spree is one of Combat’s major burst damage cooldowns, that means major frustration when you want to dish out serious damage on a target (be it a raid boss or a battleground flag carrier) but the game doesn’t give you that option.

If this exchange with PvP honcho Brian Holinka is any indication, that may be about to change.

That wink is far from a confirmation, of course — but it’s at the very least a coy suggestion that they’re strongly considering doing exactly what @jjones186 suggested:

  • If Blade Flurry is on, it’ll behave the way it always has, indiscriminately jumping to and poking holes in whoever is within range (and, if you have the glyph equipped, returning you to your original spot afterward).
  • If Blade Flurry is off, all seven attacks will be directed at your current target.

There’s a lot of appeal to this approach. It avoids the frustrations of adding a spec-specific glyph to the game that would feel all but required in most PvP and some PvE situations. It gives a player the power to decide when s/he would rather spread KS’s damage around or focus it on one enemy. And it may offer this flexibility in a balanced way, by forcing us to choose between a significant amount of AoE burst and a significant amount of single-target burst (as opposed to being able to keep BF on while KSing a single target, which allows us to have our damage-dealing cake and eat it too).

Finally, it may be the nudge that finally makes Combat worth seriously considering as a competitive arena spec.

With signs increasingly suggesting that Patch 5.4 may hit the PTR very soon — likely within the next week, and possibly even tomorrow — we could get our confirmation shortly on what, if any, changes are in store for one of Combat’s signature spells.

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This just in from today’s round of official Patch 5.2 hotfix notes:

Blade Flurry now has a range of 8 yards, up from 5 yards, and will only hit targets that are within the Rogue’s line-of-sight.

For anyone out there who’s still as steamed as a well-pressed shirt over the fact that Blade Flurry in Patch 5.2 does much less damage in two-target fights than it used to… well, no, actually, for those of you who are still angry about that, shut your faces already, because BF is still the strongest of the three specs on two-target fights, it now has solid DPS potential against 3 to 5 targets, and the originally planned nerf was partially reverted THREE TIMES to ensure that BF would still be a strong ability.

But I digress. For anyone out there who IS still annoyed over the BF changes, this tweak will hopefully turn that frown upside-down. Five yards is melee range; as Chase Christian pointed out just this week on WoW Insider (and many rogue players have noted in forums), that’s just small enough to make it extremely difficult to use BF to its maximum effect in most raid situations. The 60% bump in range may be all Combat rogues need to be competitive with Assassination in less-than-6-nearby-target situations (which accounts for most raid situations in which rogue AoE is helpful).

But why turn the dial up to 8 yards instead of 10? Not entirely sure. I don’t know other classes’ abilities well enough to compare all the ranges, though iirc warriors’ Cleave is only 5 yards. [Edit: As Señor Christian notes, warriors’ Bladestorm also has an 8-yard range.]

(Actually, now that I think on it: Eight yards, as it so happens, is the same range that Fan of Knives used to have during the previous two expansions. We also used to have a glyph that extended the range from 8 yards to 12. In Mists, though, the glyph went away — FLASH TRIVIA: What glyph replaced it in WoW’s database? Hint: It’s lethally kinetic — and FoK’s range became 10 yards.)

I assumed that if Blade Flurry were going to be buffed, it’d be buffed to match FoK’s range. But this may well just be a case of the class design team taking an abundance of caution: They’ve already seen the kind of backlash that one Blade Flurry nerf caused, and they likely don’t want to overbuff it now only to have to dial it back down again in the future if 10 yards proves to somehow be too strong. However, don’t be surprised if you see another uptick to 10 yards in Patch 5.3 if Blizzard doesn’t see Combat DPS improve on multitarget fights as much as they’re hoping.

One closing note, on the line-of-sight change: <shrug>. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realize BF ignored LoS in the first place. My best guess is it has to do with a desire to avoid potential issues in arena PvP, where a rogue could potentially chill next to a pillar and beat on one target in front of them, while also transferring some of the damage to an enemy caster on the opposite side of the pillar. How thick are those pillars, anyway?

Ew. That question sounded dirty. Like comparing a person to a sleeping bag filled with tent poles.

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MMO-Champion has just posted its latest datamining results from what appears to be a new Patch 5.2 build — the third build overall — on its way to the PTR. Below is my layman’s recap of the rogue-related changes MMO-Champion spotted. (Please keep in mind the usual caveats about datamining not being 100% complete or reliable.)

  • Blade Flurry’s damage reduction has been somewhat de-nerfed again. It’ll copy 40% (up from 20% in the previous PTR build) of its damage onto up to four nearby targets. The energy regen penalty remains in place. This change is in line with Ghostcrawler’s preview in a forum post on Jan. 11, and seems intended to strike a balance between “Combat’s cleave is way too powerful” and “Combat’s cleave is so awful, and the spec offers so few other benefits, that there’s no reason to go Combat in raids anymore.” This marks the second straight PTR build restoring some oomph to Blade Flurry after the initial massive nerf.
  • Smoke Bomb is getting a buff that will increase its value in PvP (and possibly PvE). In addition to its existing effects, it’ll also reduce the damage taken by “allies” within the smoke cloud by 20%. We’ll likely need to test for ourselves some of the questions this change raises, such as: How will this stack with other damage-reducing effects? Does “allies” include all players (and pets, and NPCs) of the same faction, or must they be in the same party as the rogue? Will the ability work against severely damaging spells cast by raid bosses, or will they be exempt?
  • Marked for Death’s tooltip has been edited slightly. It now says the cooldown resets “when the target dies” instead of “if the target dies within 60 seconds.” This feels like it’s just an attempt to clarify the tooltip, not any change in the way the ability works.
  • Glyph of Detection’s tooltip has also been changed. It now says you focus intently on trying to detect “certain creatures” rather than “something.” This still gives me absolutely no more clue than I had before about what practical application the swirly ball is supposed to have within the game. (I thought its return was supposed to be of the fun-but-useless variety. Maybe that’s changing?)

Related link reminder: official Patch 5.2 change compilation ~~ unofficial Patch 5.2 datamining compilation

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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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