Posts Tagged ‘PvE’

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.

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Bit of an off-the-cuff post here, apologies if I get rambly.

Newly minted Blizz Community Manager Lore has been dipping into various conversations in the official WoW PTR Discussion forum over the past couple of weeks. He’s focused on addressing major class-specific concerns related to Patch 5.4. He’s talked about Shadow priests, warlocks, Holy paladins, Windwalker monks and hunters, among others — and now Combat rogues have gotten their turn.

Posting in a brief thread filled with some really nice feedback from players on Combat rogues in Patch 5.4, Lore wrote:

Combat is supposed to feel faster-paced than the other specs, but we agree that it’s gotten a bit TOO spammy, particularly where the Tier 15 set bonus is concerned. We don’t have any solid info on any changes we might make yet, but we definitely see the concern and are discussing it.

The challenge we always face when balancing between different specs that perform the same role is that, even if the benefits are relatively small, some players will feel “required” to play whichever is “best”. Even in cases where each spec has a clearly defined niche that they excel at, some players still feel like they should change specs from fight to fight to match each encounter’s mechanics.

We’re not sure it’s even possible to ever balance things out completely perfectly so that all specs are equal in all areas, but we do our best to at least minimize the differences. It’s far too early to guess at which specs will be “best” once 5.4 launches, but our goal is to allow you to play whichever you enjoy the most without feeling like you’re making a huge sacrifice.

This is essentially a long-winded way of saying, “The developers have heard your complaints, they understand and agree with them, and they’d really like to do something about them.” There’s no resolution promised here, but that wasn’t the point of the post:

Lore really nicely explains in his post just how dastardly a conundrum this is. Rogue specs are a microcosm of WoW classes/roles in general: There is a perpetual tug of war, particularly within the massive playerbase, between the desire for all roles/specs to be similarly valuable on all raid fights and the desire for all roles/specs to have clearly defined differences in their usefulness and style.

Combat arguably lost its “niche” back in Patch 5.2, after the spec’s long-standing strength on two-target fights became stunningly obvious on Stone Guard in Mogu’shan Vaults, where Combat blew all other DPS specs out of the water. Blade Flurry got a bit of a redesign as a result — instead of copying 100% damage to one target, it now copies 40% damage to up to four nearby targets — and Combat has hardly been seen or heard from in higher-end raiding since then.

This has led to a fair number of calls for some kind of niche to find its way back into the spec (and ditto for Subtlety), or at least for more raid fights to be designed that favored (or at least stopped punishing) Combat’s mechanics. While I get the allure of that idea, I’ve never felt quite comfortable with it for exactly the reason Lore stated: Rogues are usually a black-or-white class in raids. They’re there to perform a specific role (usually maximizing DPS), and if one spec performs that role even slightly better than the others, it will be widely regarded as the “go-to” spec even if the difference is small.

I don’t think it’s realistic or wise to expect the playerbase to master all three specs and then feel pressured by our playerbase’s culture to switch from one to the next depending on which is viewed as the strongest. That may actually be worse than the current situation, in which Assassination is largely viewed as the only spec worth bothering with right now in a raid environment (even though that’s actually not true — all specs are fine to use even for progression raid groups, unless you’re seriously hardcore).

I’m similarly wary of suggestions that heroic raids in particular should be tuned to “require” that a pure DPS class use different specs on some fights in order to be successful in its role. Some folks may find that fun, sure. But that sounds like a fight design nightmare to me, not to mention a very thin wire to attempt to walk across (they’d have to ensure the same niche value for every other underplayed spec in the game, not just rogue specs) with very little gamewide benefit to be gained from it.

In other words, this shit’s hard. I don’t deny that it feels crummy to feel strongarmed into playing a single spec throughout an expansion, particularly if it’s a spec you don’t especially enjoy playing. That’s a good recipe for burnout. But I don’t see any simple alternatives that avoid creating the same problem in different ways, or that avoid making already-similar specs into an even more poorly defined melting pot of gooey rogue gameplay.

I also suspect we’re stuck with this reality until at least the next expansion. We’ll see some tuning changes and maybe some mechanic adjustments in an attempt to convince players that it’s not some kind of cardinal sin to go Combat or Subtlety in the new raid. But ultimately, there *will* be a determination made by theorycrafters and raid strategists as to which spec is “best” to use on a particular fight (or all fights), and players will flock — many of them kicking and screaming — to that spec regardless of the margin by which it’s deemed to be superior.

Man. I really need to start adding more images to these posts.

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Your once-mighty enemy falls to the earth with a crash, its last vestiges of life dissipating from its body. You and your raidmates rejoice: Another foe vanquished, another victory for the forces of whatever-it-is-we-are-because-I-mean-sometimes-it’s-kinda-hard-to-tell-whether-we’re-the-good-guys-but-whatever-we-killed-this-huge-pile-of-pixels-yay!

And what’s this? Your eyes catch a glint of metal amidst the hills of meat that were the villain and its minions. Your stomach flutters. Is that… could it be… finally??!

You approach quickly. You kneel down, shoving aside torn cloth and shattered armor, heaving corpses out of the way. You reach out, grab onto an ornate hilt, tear it free…

A mace! A glorious, incredible, powerful mace! It’s a thing of beauty! It’s exactly the weapon upgrade you most needed!

… If you were a Combat rogue.

But you’re not. You’re an Assassination rogue.

So you basically just won yourself a glorious, incredible, powerful sack of 27 gold pieces.

Assassination rogues have rent their garments over this issue for ages. So the cries of joy were loud and multitudinous when a hotfix was implemented during Patch 5.2 — and then again when loot specialization was introduced with Patch 5.3 — that promised freedom for the Mut spec from the shackles of non-dagger weapon drops from raid bosses and heroic scenarios.

Only… it frequently hasn’t worked as advertised. Forums are littered with reports of players in Assassination spec still seeing “slow” one-handed weapons — axes, fist weapons, maces and swords — fall from bosses like rain from the sky, causing not a little bit of consternation. Blizzard had largely been silent on the issue, and some players reported Game Master responses to in-game tickets telling them to basically suck it up, because that’s the way it was meant to work.

Well, late last week, we got the most official word we can get that no, it’s *not* working the way it’s meant to work:

We are treating that behavior as a bug. I don’t have any eta for a fix but it’s something we’re aware of and plan to resolve.

Those were the words of Sapperwix, a congenial blue poster and Blizzard quality assurance rep who moderates the official WoW U.S. bug report forum. He was posting in response to a player reporting a number of fist weapon drops after killing Raid Finder bosses and using bonus-roll coins while in Mut loot spec.

So. We know they know about the issue. (And we also know it’s definitely worthwhile to post bugs like these in the official bug report forum.) We know they know it’s a problem. Now we just hope they can fix it reasonably soon.

In the meantime, me and my still-no-dagger-drops-this-entire-expansion-despite-roughly-75-kills-and-coin-rolls-on-bosses-with-daggers-in-their-loot-table ass will go cry quietly in this lonely little corner of my blog over here.

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As I’ve started writing these TWIRBS up more regularly, I’m surprised to see just how much worthwhile stuff is written/said/noted about rogues even during weeks like the one we just had, where basically nothing of note actually happened with the class.

PvPers Go Hmm

Meanwhile, on the Patch 5.4 PTR

  • NEW CLASS CHANGES: A new PTR build was datamined, and fansites spotted a whooole mess of changes — except to rogues. :) The only rogue-specific adjustment was to the tooltip of our Tier 16 raid set bonus (instead of “When you generate a combo point from Revealing Strike, Honor Amongst Thieves, or Seal Fate,” it now reads “When you generate a combo point from Revealing Strike’s effect, Honor Among Thieves, or Seal Fate). I’m relatively sure isn’t actually a change — I think it’s meant just to clarify the tooltip. (I also think the tweak didn’t clarify it very well at all. If they’re trying to say the bonus will proc whenever we use a combo point-generating ability on our target while the Revealing Strike debuff is active… well, why not say that? :) )
  • NEW SHINIES: So, like I said, nothing new for rogues specifically. But we did get our first glimpse of how our legendary(!) cloaks will work (see the datamine for more), and we also got a first look at five interesting DPS trinkets that will drop in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. I mention them briefly in this post over on Elitist Jerks, but I think I’ll do a blog entry about them as soon as our theorycrafting geniuses have had a chance to take a closer look. (In the meantime, you can look in on a pretty decent discussion that unfolded in the WoW rogue forum about the trinkets.)

PvE Theory-Ish Stuff

  • TIER 16: Last week’s WoW Insider column analyzes the upcoming Tier 16 set bonuses, and explores why Blizzard may have chosen the specific types of bonuses they have.

The Legendary Quest Chain

Fun Stuff

  • FAN FICTION: The Godmother returns with another chapter of her new tale about a dwarf hunter who has been through hell and back again (as all of our characters have, in terms of game lore). A rogue is one of the key characters in this wonderfully written story. (To be fair, I should disclose some bias: I’ve been helping a bit with getting these chapters ready for prime time. But I wouldn’t be doing so if I didn’t think it was great stuff to begin with. And I don’t even like WoW fan fiction!)

And that’s the week in rogueball. Don’t forget to stop in at the newly renamed Tweets From the Shadows page to see the latest twitterings from Blizzfolk on rogue-related subjects.

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We’ve got several rogue-related odds and ends worth noting over the past week. Pappy Rogue has you covered! (Please don’t actually call me that. I just felt the need to make a stupid tie-in to Father’s Day. Success!)

In the Live Game

  • Y’know all those wacky stealth issues that many rogues have been reporting lately? PvP cap’n Brian Holinka offered a possible workaround for the problem on Wednesday — and then followed that up with a tweet this weekend that “a hotfix was pushed out to help with most of the stealth bugs.” Go forth and test!
  • I’ve seen several anecdotal reports of Combat weapons dropping for Assassination rogues in LFR and heroic scenarios. If your loot spec is set to Assassination, you *should not* be seeing any axes, fists, maces or swords drop from LFR bosses or coin rolls (i.e., extra rolls you get by using a Mogu Rune of Fate or an Elder Charm of Fortune), as well as from heroic scenarios or any quest from the current expansion. If you’re getting a non-dagger drop despite your loot setting, please post to the WoW bug-report forum with a detailed description of where you were, what quest/boss/scenario you were in and what dropped.

PvE Thoughts: Combat Rogues, Tier 15 and the Global Cooldown

As the curtain begins to fall on Patch 5.3, some of the more geniusy among us have been looking back on our Tier 15 set bonuses and looking at their impact, especially on Combat rogues.

PvP Thoughts: All Eyes on Assassination

In the wake of 5.3’s rogue nerfs, which most heavily impacted Subtlety PvPers, Assassination is getting ever-more attention as a viable PvP sec.

I’m Pretty Sure That’s All…

  • Holinka also noted the designers’ feeling that when it comes to PvP class balance, rogue survivability is not a priority — that their ability to use stealth (when it works right) and to control their enemies is their niche, not their ability to outlast incoming damage.

And that’s the week in rogueball. Make sure to scope out the Roguetwitpendium (which I really need to come up with a better name for) to see the latest Blizzard rogue-related tweets; most of the time I won’t bother to write full bloggy posts to highlight them.

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First up, the super-brief super-summary:

  • Killing Spree (Combat) is getting a major quality-of-life improvement. We’ll have the option of focusing it on a single target.
  • Recuperate is getting buffed. The ability itself and the glyph both get a bump.
  • Our entire level-60 mobility talent tier (Burst of Speed, Cloak and Dagger, Shadowstep) is getting buffed.
  • Subtlety’s combo point builders, Backstab and Hemorrhage, are both getting buffed.
  • Eviscerate (Combat and Subtlety’s damaging finisher) is getting nerfed.
  • Nightstalker (level-15 talent) is getting buffed.
  • Cheat Death (level-45 talent) is getting buffed.
  • Our new Tier 16 raid gear bonuses are interesting, but don’t yet firmly answer any questions about which spec will be “strongest” on paper in terms of DPS potential.
  • Loot-drop bug fix: Non-dagger weapons should stop dropping for Assassination rogues in LFR and heroic scenarios.
  • Anything I haven’t listed above is either unconfirmed or a likely tooltip change (not an actual change to the way an ability/item works).

Click away for much more detail, as well as analyses, theorycrafting and other bits that’ll help you get a better sense for what these changes mean and what folks are saying about them.

Looking for Patch *5.3* rogue changes? I’ve got a full rundown for you thisaway.

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The extraordinary Cynwise published his latest class distribution numbers over the weekend; let’s take a quick look at the rogue bits.

I very much recommend reading Cynwise’s summary of the new data, in which he takes snapshots of various class-population measurements on U.S./EU servers at the start of Patch 5.3 and compares them to earlier patches (and expansions). There are oodles of charts and lots of numbers and it’s all very overwhelming for a former English major like me, but there are several key takeaway points worth noting:

  • At the start of Patch 5.3, 6.2% of toons at max level were rogues. That’s up from 5.8% at the start of Patch 5.2, but still the lowest percentage of any class other than monks.
  • Not including monks, rogues were the least-popular class in heroic raids and the second-least-popular class in competitive arena (after hunters). It may be that the PvP overbuffing we got for Patch 5.2 wasn’t around long enough to seriously alter rogue representation in arena, although it does look like the proportion of arena players who were rogues did increase quite a bit. (It’s just that the percentage was so low to begin with that increasing the proportion “quite a bit” still wasn’t enough to make them objectively “popular.”)
  • Despite their low overall representation, rogue popularity at endgame grew more than any other class except monks during Patch 5.2. The number of level-90 rogues jumped 32%. (They just appear not to be finding their way into heroic raids or arena as frequently as other classes.)
  • The total number of rogue toons in the game (across all levels) dropped during Patch 5.2. The drop was slight — only about 1% — but rogues were the only class who saw a reduction in total toon number between the start of Patch 5.2 and the start of Patch 5.3.

And then there’s this (quoting Cynwise):

At all levels, there are more Rogues than Monks, Warlocks or Shaman. There are almost as many Rogues as there are Priests! But Rogues are not making it to level 90. […]

Some of this might be due to Rogue populations swelling in late Cataclysm for the legendary daggers. A large number of leveling PvP rogues might also account for it? I’m sure that the Rogue community will have much greater insight than I over it.

But right now, Warriors are behind the other hybrids by a little, and Rogues are behind the other pure DPS classes by a lot.

[…]

Rogues are more popular than they seem but are struggling to make it to the endgame. Those Rogues who make it to the endgame can do well, but so few of them do compared to everyone else that there’s something abnormal with them. Rogues are less likely to experience Pandaria than any other class, and that is worth investigating.

To illustrate his point, Cynwise showed us this chart:

It shows that, compared to all other classes, people are much less likely to finish leveling a rogue. This made me wonder: Where the heck are they “stopping,” and why?

(more…)

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