Blizzard seems to have an affinity for announcing Warcraft updates in the afternoon/evening on Fridays. For those of us who like to report on game updates for the benefit of others, we call this practice “RUINING OUR WEEKENDS.” (In the case of the announcement about new types of buyable in-game items, we also may sometimes call it “burying the news.” Ahem.)
In my case, there was no ruination this time: I said “screw it” and ran away to have myself a WoW-free, blog-free, Twittah-free weekend. Nyah.
As a result, the two developments that broke on Friday regarding rogues in Patch 5.4 likely aren’t news to many of you. But I’m going to note them here nonetheless, ’cause that’s how I do — and because there’s some new stuff to report about player reactions.
One of the two developments announced Friday is a preview of two Combat changes: an upcoming buff to Sinister Strike and the re-introduction of a former talent (no, not Versatility) for Combat rogues. The second development is a nice little quality-of-life fix for the Glyph of Blind.
I’m gonna mention the glyph fix first because it’s quick. This was the only rogue-related change in Friday’s update to the official Patch 5.4 PTR notes: The Glyph of Blind is receiving a tweak so that, if you’re specced into Dirty Tricks and you have the glyph equipped, your poisons and bleeds will to continue to damage your enemy while it’s Blinded. (In the live game now, if I’m recalling this properly, Glyph of Blind currently wipes out those DoT effects because that’s what it’s meant to do; it doesn’t care that Dirty Tricks is already ensures that Blind won’t break due to those effects.) It’s a handy fix both for PvP and for PvE soloing/questing (including Brawler’s Guild fights).
Now for the Combat spec stuff. Posting in the same thread he poked his flaming kittyhead into on Thursday, Blizz Community Manager Lore popped back in on Friday to offer a far more specific sense for where the developers are planning to go in an effort to make the Combat spec feel less oh-my-god-I’m-mashing-buttons-so-quickly-there’s-no-flesh-left-on-my-fingertips at higher gear levels:
Here’s a couple changes we’re going to try, hopefully in the next PTR build:
- Sinister Strike: Weapon damage percent increased from 145% to 190%. Energy cost increased from 40 energy to 50 energy.
- Ruthlessness: This new passive has been added for Combat Rogues at level 32. When you do a finishing move, you have a 20% chance per combo point spent to immediately regain 1 combo point on your current target.
So the goal here is that, by buffing Sinister Strike and causing it to spend energy faster, that will reduce the button mashing just slightly. Again, we want Combat to be faster paced, it’s just too extreme at the moment. Sinister Strike hitting harder is a nice perk as well.
However, that by itself would slow down Combat’s combo point generation, which is where Ruthlessness comes in. It should allow you to Eviscerate at about the same rate you do today, despite getting fewer Sinister Strikes in in the same time period. Although it’s configured like a proc, our intent is that Rogues will usually use finishers when it has a 100% chance.
(If Ruthlessness looks oddly familiar to you, that’s because it’s come back from the dead: It was a talent in the Assassination “tree” before the Mists talent overhaul, back when there was such a thing as a separate talent tree for each spec.)
A good number of us welcomed this change, at least in principle. However, several players quickly pointed out that although it provides a net buff to Sinister Strike (20% higher energy cost, but 31% more damage), it would also probably slow down how rapidly we cycle through our Bandit’s Guile Insight levels. Since our Insight level increases whenever we cast four Sinister or Revealing Strikes, hitting SS less often (due to the higher energy cost) means we’ll spend longer in no/Shallow/Moderate Insight, but the same amount of time in Deep Insight (which always lasts 15 seconds no matter how many times you mash SS/RvS).
This problem could easily be fixed by turning a few knobs on various abilities — and as Ghostcrawler reminded us again this weekend, serious DPS tuning hasn’t even started yet on the Patch 5.4 PTR, so it’s likely we’d see such a fix before the patch went live. (That’s assuming it wasn’t their intent all along to make this a DPS-neutral change by indirectly nerfing Bandit’s Guile.)
But Fierydemise, who during this expansion has established himself as one of our class’s most prominent theorycrafters, posted a detailed explanation for why he felt that — regardless of number tuning — this entire approach wouldn’t actually help to resolve Combat’s spamminess during the times when we’re spammier than a truck stop that’s run out of pork and beef. Here’s an excerpt:
The proposed changes make zero difference in spamminess during AR+SB which is the primary source of the complaints and slows down the spec the rest of the time. This seems directly opposite to what theses changes should do. Additionally these changes only further serve to prop up the T15 4pc which has been an overpowered set bonus from day 1 and is unlikely to be replaced during T16 without substantial nerfs.
Additionally these changes create substantial quality of life issues of leveling and low gear level players. Combat can already be quite frustrating at low gear levels because of limited haste and this will only serve to exacerbate that issue. In fact with these changes it is entirely possible that a poorly geared player could have their BG stacks fall off while using BF.
We’ll need to wait and see how Blizzfolk address or counter these concerns. There’s still a lot of Patch 5.4 PTR left, so it’s good that these sorts of issues are out on the table and being openly discussed so early in the process. Helps increase the likelihood that they’ll be ironed out before the patch goes live.