Posts Tagged ‘raiding’

I don’t think of myself as a person who has very strong opinions about the rogue class. I’m probably wrong about that.

I started this blog to inform. Not just you guys, but also myself — I actively use my site to look back on recent class changes and to remind myself of what Ghostcrawler and other designers have said about rogues over the past year. It’s surprised me how many times I’ve written rants — and how long they’ve been.

So when the superific Subtlety lover Haileaus started a new thread in WoW’s rogue class forum asking people to talk about their rogue experiences in the context of the next expansion, my only thought was: Ooh, this’ll be cool to report on. I wonder what people will say?

It took some prodding from Hail for me to realize that maybe it’d be helpful and constructive of me if I said some stuff, too.

So. Here’s what I posted. The quoted bits are the questions that Hail set forth in the thread’s original post to help give people structure for their feedback (an outstanding idea). If any of this confuses you, infuriates you or raises your curiosity, fire away in the comments or — preferably — over in that forum thread, which has become a really nice collection point for class feedback.


What is your ideal, glorified, rogue? This one can be a bit unrealistic, and doesn’t have to be one answer (You could, for instance, say 3 – 1 per spec), but basically, if you had a dream you were the perfect OP rogue, what would it be like?

Basically, Assassin’s Creed. Can’t remotely work in the context of an MMO, but the one-shot kill, the perpetual ability to deceive and misdirect, the grappling hook, the ability to weave through enemy territory by means other than simply hitting a stealth button and walking carefully. Ultimate mobility, control, burst and secrecy.


How do you feel about the current damage distribution (where the bulk of your damage comes from) for each spec? What would you like it to be like? Please make note of whether this is in PvE or PvP.

I heard a rumor that a lot of people have posted in this thread complaining about passive damage in PvE. I agree with that, but not because I’m much of a fan of seeing big numbers as a direct result of mashing buttons: If I know my target’s gonna lose 25% of its health in the next five seconds, it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me whether that’s 5% per second or 2%/2%/17%/2%/2%. The reason I dislike huge passive damage amounts is that it shrinks the gap between those who really put a lot of time and effort into playing their class better and those who don’t.

I haven’t got a clue what sort of passive-vs.-active damage ratio we need to have in order to make that “skill gap” something I’m happy with. (Heck, I’m not even sure what that ratio is now, so maybe my entire argument here is moot.) And I feel kinda douchey even saying this, because I realize it’s sort of an elitist thing to say. But if you’re gonna learn how to play your class/spec optimally, and if you’re gonna practice to ensure that you follow through on what you’ve learned, I think you should be rewarded by doing crazy-huge better on DPS charts than a person who only has the basics down.


What are your thoughts on each spec’s rotation?

They all exist. :) I’ve tended to think of rotations as inevitable means to an end. I’m used to the maintain-this, build-with-this, finish-with-this approach, and I’m used to that approach being punctuated by the use of major cooldowns. Do I like it? Meh. Do I dislike it? Meh. It’s the way it is, the way it’s been, and has never been what I love or dislike most about playing the class.


If you could pitch just one idea to the devs, what would it be?

Find a way to give us a Grappling Hook ability that allows us to teleport to any location — horizontally or vertically — within, say, 20 yards or so that’s within our line of sight. Yknow, without that being ridiculously imbalanced in PvP. :)


What is your favorite part about your rogue in MoP, and what has been your favorite historically?

How stealth (plus speed) gives me the ability to choose my battles and get where I want to go without having to take the long way around.


Least favorite?

How visually messy raid fights get from the perspective of a melee DPS. It is hard to see much of anything that’s going on around me due to all the visual effects.


What should rogues be able to do better than every other class/melee?

Avoid damage, move quickly and frustrate the enemy.


What should rogues be able to do worse than every other class/melee?

Self-heal and deal sustained single-target damage outside of a PvE raiding context.


What do you think about the class’s role in PvE/PvP? If you would like to see it change, in what direction?

It’s not our role in PvE that I have a problem with; what makes me unhappy sometimes is how uninteresting it can feel to be a melee DPS. This is entirely a personal preference, but I’ve never been happier in a raid fight than when I’ve felt I have brought something special to my group that helped them win. I haven’t had a chance to even raid outside of LFR this expansion, but in Cata, I loved being a soaker on heroic Morchok, and I loved being in the Ultraxion rotation as a person who popped Cloak every third Twilight to keep the raid alive.

My DPS rotation is a constant; it’s always there, and it always will be, and my DPS potential will always be a number. The tools in my belt that can make or break my raid group on a particular fight are what form the memories that stick with me as a WoW player.


What that rogues used to have do you miss?

Swirly b— oh. Right.


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After a series of vacations and international trippin’, Ghostcrawler returned to his regularly scheduled Twittercast this week, addressing questions and feedback on a wide range of WoW gameplay topics. On the rogue front, he responded to lamentations that the rogue class is being ignored, gave one of his most detailed hints yet about how he’d like to make our specs more different, and addressed concerns about Combat rogues in end-game PvE.

“Pretty Happy With Rogues”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this statement cause some garment-rending; it can easily be interpreted as flippant or dismissive. But keep in mind the many, many, many things Ghostcrawler has said recently about rogue class issues, including this exchange last night:

[NOTE 8/7/13: Since this initial exchange, GC has had some additional back-and-forth on Twittsville; I’ll write a new blog post about it soon and link it from here, but in the meantime you can see the full “thread” over on my rogue tweet page.]

What this amounts to is:

  • As Blizzfolk have stated many times (most famously last summer, when GC called rogues the “best designed class”), they like the way our resource system works (earn combo points with small things that use energy, spend them on bigger things that use less energy); that’s not on the table for an overhaul, and they’ve got no plans to make each spec “work” differently in that respect.
  • As Blizzfolk have also stated many times during Mists, they understand — and agree with — the common complaint that specs have become too similar, and they plan to address it. Just not in the middle of an expansion, since that would likely confuse the thousands upon thousands of rogue players who may not be thrilled to see their gameplay suddenly turned upside-down.
  • Yes, Blizzfolk are actually listening, and yes, they actually care, and yes, they actually discuss and debate about these issues. There just isn’t necessarily a simple or obvious solution to the problem, no matter how many of us may believe we personally know exactly what the simple, obvious solution is.

Combat Spec in 5.4: We’re Not Done Yet

(The “ST” in that tweet stands for “single target,” not “Shuriken Toss,” in case you were confused. :) )

This question, and GC’s response, pretty nicely encapsulate the conversation many raiding rogues have been having about how our three specs have performed throughout most of this expansion. Assassination has shined basically from the moment Mists launched; it’s pretty consistently been the top-performing melee DPS spec, and on many fights it’s been right up there with the top specs overall.

By comparison, Combat and Subtlety have both languished in end-game obscurity. Combat had its moment in the sun on the first raid fight of the expansion (Stone Guard), where its two-target cleave absolutely blew all other DPS out of the water — so much so that the designers realized it was finally time to change the way the ability worked. So they did. Since then, its special niche largely removed, the spec has been selected by relatively few high-end raiders.

Subtlety, meanwhile, perennially suffers from two main issues in raids: One, the spec has the widest “skill gap” — meaning the difference between playing it well and playing it poorly is larger than for the other two specs. And two, the positional requirement of Backstab, which two prominent PvE rogues (Fierydemise, Haileaus) recently blogged about.

With the tuning phase of the Patch 5.4 PTR likely to begin within the next few weeks, we should start to see theorycrafters picking apart the numbers and calculating how competitive Combat and Subtlety will be, on paper, to King Mut in the upcoming raid tier. There are a lot of variables at play here: DPS potential isn’t just about simulations, it’s also about how our funky new Tier 16 set bonuses will work, and about our wacky new trinkets, and about how many of the Siege of Orgrimmar raid fights are designed in a way that’s more “friendly” to one spec than another. So don’t expect any quick or easy verdicts.

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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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[UPDATE 5/29: Ghostcrawler responded with a clarification of the Icy Veins interview response; I’ve added his tweets to the bottom of this post.]

Welcome to today’s edition of WoW’s Developers Used Confusing Wording When Responding to an Interview Question, So Let’s See How Badly We Can Misinterpret It. Our topic for this particular WDUCWWRIQSLSHBWCMI is: the success/failure of the rogue Tier 15 four-piece bonus.

Tier 15 is the raid gear that was introduced in Patch 5.2 with the Throne of Thunder. In the first incarnation we saw on the PTR, the rogue four-piece bonus only reduced by 40% the energy cost of abilities we used during Shadow Blades. The designers listened to player feedback and decided to break one of the game’s basic commandments: “Thy global cooldown shalt not fall below one second, howsoever thee may cryeth about it.”

Yielding to concerns about Combat rogues energy capping if they tried to use Adrenaline Rush with Shadow Blades while the four-piece bonus was active, the designers chose to add to the set bonus a .3-second reduction to our global cooldown. That effectively gave Combat rogues a half-second GCD during Adrenaline Rush + Shadow Blades, thanks to the AdRush glyph that is considered all but required for raiding Combat rogues.

Last week, Icy Veins asked the WoW design team how they felt the experiment turned out. The WoWdevs responded: (more…)

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It’s time for the melee DPS role to be about more than stabbing backs and taking names.

The final looking-back-on-Patch-5.2 WoW designer interview went live on Icy Veins just before the holiday weekend began (don’t they know the rule about trying to get folks to pay attention to news on a Friday?). If you’ve got a passion for end-game raiding, there’s a lot of cool stuff in that interview worth reading — nothing earth-moving or particularly surprising, but we don’t often see WoW designers talk at length about role balance and class mechanics in raids, so this is a rare opportunity to look into the crystal ball and see anything more than clouds.

There are two sections of the Icy Veins interview that I wanted to call particular attention to from a rogue perspective. The first touches on the “ranged-vs.-melee” question in raids and how their respective roles are evolving. (The second touches on our four-piece Tier 15 set bonus; I’ll talk about that in my next post.)

From the interview:

Icy Veins: In the past, melee DPS were seen as having a significant disadvantage in heroic raiding. During Throne of Thunder, however, there are some fights where melee do very well, like Iron Qon, and others where they do really poorly, like Ra-Den. Are you happy with each having their own niche fights, or is it a goal of yours to design fights where both range and melee players will perform roughly the same?

Blizzard: Overall we like for there to be fights that favor different play styles. In Throne of Thunder, there are good fights for range and good fights for melee, and nobody is underperforming to the degree where it is widespread for guild to sit a lot of melee on one fight or a lot of ranged on the next. We agree in previous tiers that melee felt like more of a liability, but we don’t feel that way about the current content (but see the next question).

Icy Veins: Does granting range players the ability to retain more and more damage on the move (as illustrated by the upcoming Lightning Bolt changes in 5.3) make it harder and harder to design encounters where melee DPS are not trailing behind?

Blizzard: Traditionally, the melee advantage was being able to do damage while moving, but now a lot of ranged are also good at movement. We could certainly go back in and prune a lot of cast-on-the-move and instant spells from casters, but on the other hand we know players think those abilities are fun and you can even argue that having to stand and “turret” as a combat mechanic feels a little dated. There is also a continuum here: casting Lightning Bolt while moving isn’t a big balance problem, but something like passive Kil’jaeden’s Cunning might be.

Rather than making casters terrible at moving, we’d rather develop a niche that melee are really good at. For example, we could emphasize that melee are really good at cleaving multiple targets, or they could be more survivable, or both. We are going to explore these ideas more.

I agree that the “turret” approach to damage-dealing no longer makes sense within the context of WoW — or possibly within the context of any complex MMORPG. Only being able to do serious damage while standing still is not a fun way to play a class, especially in a game as fast-paced and movement-based as WoW tends to be. The must-stand-still requirement also severely inhibits the creativity raid designers can use when crafting new encounters. I embrace the growing trend of ranged classes evolving a greater ability to deal damage on the run, most recently embodied in Shamans’ Lightning Bolt spell being castable while moving in 5.3.

At the same time, if we look at raiding rogues in particular, we haven’t seen — and perhaps we *can’t* see — a similar shift in range/movement flexibility. Yes, the designers have tinkered with stealth speed, Sprint and Shadowstep (and they’ve introduced a worthwhile alternative, Burst of Speed, as well as a formerly-borderline-superior-but-now-extremely-niche alternative in Cloak and Dagger). They’ve also made case-by-case adjustments to boss fights to make it easier for us to hurt them (e.g., making their hitbox larger, or increasing the angle at which we’re technically “behind” them). But these are largely tweaks, bandages and temporary solutions to a bigger, much more intractable issue: When a rogue isn’t within melee range of its target, the player pulling that rogue’s strings is most likely not having much fun.

We can’t, and shouldn’t, expect for every raid fight to be equally rogue-friendly. We *want* variety in our raid mechanics, and if we accept that, then we have to also accept that “variety” is going to include various levels of challenge in us maintaining uptime on our targets.

But there is a difference between a fight that is rogue-unfriendly and a fight that is borderline infuriating for a rogue. Hardly a raid tier goes by without at least one fight that literally murders a Combat rogue who dares to use Killing Spree, one of the spec’s core DPS cooldowns (and, importantly, one of the most fun cooldowns we have when it works properly). And if you had the pleasure of experiencing the Twilight Ascendant Council fight during Cataclysm, then you know what it’s like to spend an encounter doing your impression of chasing after Benny Hill.

This expansion has been better than the last one, to be sure. There are no fights yet in Mists where rogues perform atrociously relative to other classes (the extent to which we may struggle to shine on fights like Council of Elders falls within my range of acceptable variance for the sake of raid mechanic variety), and it’s nice to see design decisions like what was done for the Durumu maze, in which there is both a melee path and a ranged path to allow all DPS to continue dealing damage while weaving their way through trouble.

Meanwhile, our class has gotten a major survivability boost this expansion thanks to the available-to-all-classes combination of Feint (50% reduction to AoE damage) and Elusiveness (30% across-the-board damage reduction during Feint), which can drastically reduce the burden we place on our healers during heavy-damage moments while only costing us a small amount of DPS. And in Patch 5.2, Smoke Bomb was also given some raid utility in the form of an AoE damage reducer. Both of these changes fit with the theme the developers stated above: Trying to offset ranged classes’ additional mobility by giving melee some *unique* tools that provide demonstrable raid utility.

I like this direction. I think our instinct might be to call for 1) harder-hitting melee abilities or 2) more mobility (i.e., additional/more powerful gap closers) to make up for us losing ground to ranged classes in the uptime-on-target category. But to me, that’s not a fun solution. I want raiding with my rogue to be about more than just stabbing a boss repeatedly for six minutes using a set rotation of abilities. I want to be challenged, and I want to have to spend (a reasonable amount of) time off my target every now and then — but I want that to be offset by the greater feeling of fulfillment that comes from bringing more to the table than my DPS.

What if the change to Smoke Bomb were just the beginning? What if we gained a whole host of powerful, but niche, raid uses for our abilities? What if Cheat Death were redesigned into a baseline cooldown that could be cast on yourself — or on an ally — once every five minutes? What if we (and warriors) could use Dismantle on raid bosses once per fight, similarly to how other classes can use battle res? What if Feint temporarily increased our crit by a percentage of the incoming damage we reduced? What if Tricks of the Trade didn’t just transfer threat to our target — what if it also transferred the effects of any defensive cooldowns we used while the buff was active, such as Evasion and Cloak of Shadows?

The days of pigeonholing classes into single roles with narrow definitions of “success” need to be over with. MMOs like WoW — and the people who play them — have matured past that point. For a class like ours, DPS should always be relevant and important, but it’s time we moved on from the idea that we somehow deserve to be the DPS kings in raids because we’re so handicapped in other areas. It’s time we instead called for those handicaps to be removed or altered in ways that make rogues as a class, and melee as a role, feel unique, more compelling to play and genuinely useful in ways it’s never felt in raids before.

At the same time, it’s time for WoW’s designers to truly practice what they preach. Developers such as Ghostcrawler are fond of chastising players for paying so much attention to DPS meters, and rightly so. But they’ve provided so few alternatives for us to feel *tangibly* valuable in raids outside of damage-dealing that it’s no wonder we continue to latch onto our DPS performance as our only real measure of success. In last week’s Icy Veins interview, they promised to explore new niches in which melee could be valuable. Let’s hope they really push the envelope, take some risks and get creative in doing so for the next expansion.

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Who knew that Ghostcrawler held such a deep affection for the world’s wrist-brace manufacturers? As a Valentine’s Day gift to them, he announced last night that Combat rogues in Patch 5.2 would have a chance to spam their buttons like they’ve never spammed them before:

We are going to do something unusual and allow the [new PvE Tier 15 four-piece] set bonus to also reduce the global cooldown on rogue abilities to 0.7 sec during Shadow Blades.

This means that, if you have the four-piece, and you pop glyphed Adrenaline Rush and Shadow Blades at the same time, your global cooldown for most abilities will actually be HALF A FREAKING SECOND. I KNOW.

(GC did not say whether this change *only* impacted the Combat spec; his words were general enough that I think it’s likely it affects all three specs. Only Combat will see a massive benefit from it, though.)


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The bigger question I think this tweet raises is: What should be done about the problem? After all, if it’s only underplayed, not underpowered, you can’t really buff it — that would likely just push the see-saw in the opposite direction.

And heck, while I’m at it: Is this even really a “problem”? Is it automatically a bad thing if we only use two of the three rogue specs in end-game PvE? Is it possible that, in this crazy, mixed-up, dual-spec world of ours, we players simply can’t handle the concept of three truly viable raiding specs?

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