Posts Tagged ‘Versatility’

Inscrutable headlines ftw!

This is what happens when I put off updates for too long: THINGS. SO MANY OF THE THINGS.

A gaggle of notable rogue players are now running around willy-nilly in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha and learning all sorts of odds and ends about how our class appears to be playing so far. A couple of them — Rzn and Haileaus — are even streaming their Alpha bits all over the Twitchesphere. But for the purposes of this post, I will now pretend that this momentous occasion has not yet occurred, so that we can focus here on the same stuff we focused on in my earlier updates: “official” statements, clarifications on Twitter and datamining.

I realize this is all getting awfully unwieldy: Five separate update posts in addition to my initial rundown of class changes does not make for a neat, pretty picture. At the moment, the best all-in-one recap by far is over at Wowhead, where Perculia and Olivia Grace have teamed up to take most of the bits and pieces we’ve learned about Warlords rogues and tie them up into a neat package.

If you just want a look at what we’ve learned in the past two weeks (not including player observations from within the Alpha), here’s what went down specifically in relation to rogues in Warlords:

Datamining Teases Possible Raid Set Bonuses

Although we’ve been warned by WoW’s designers not to take these remotely seriously, the first datamined glimpse of possible set bonuses for Tier 17 raid gear and PvP gear — spotted by Wowhead and MMO-Champion on June 10 — range from dull (Combat/Subtlety two-piece) to interesting (Subtlety four-piece) and perplexing-because-it’s-likely-a-typo (Assassination’s two-piece appears to buff a hunter ability, which is about as insulting as you can get.)

Quoting Wowhead — and again, remember, this is datamining that WoW’s designers have warned us are almost entirely just placeholders right now:

No Assassination PvE four-piece bonus appears to have been datamined.

Spec “Attunements” Datamined

Another noteworthy rogue-specific tidbit from the June 10 datamining (the rest of which appear to mostly be tooltip corrections, typos and in-progress adjustments that aren’t worth trying to analyze) is this set of “Attunements” that passively boost the value of one of our secondary stats when we hit Level 90.

Again quoting Wowhead, our Attunements currently appear to be:

  • Mastery Attunement [Assassination]: You gain 5% more of the Mastery stat from all sources.
  • Haste Attunement [Combat]: You gain 5% more of the Haste stat from all sources.
  • Multistrike Attunement [Subtlety]: You gain 5% more of the Multistrike stat from all sources.

Don’t be surprised to see these change significantly as the WoD Alpha (and Beta) progresses. Something feels odd about a passive buff being granted to a single secondary stat, which feels like it would inherently increase that stat’s value relative to the others — something that goes directly against designers’ repeatedly stated goal for Warlords that they wished to keep secondary stats close to one another in value.

There has also been no official comment regarding whether we need to have first obtained a Shadowforge Key in order to unlock these attunements. (HYUK!)

On Combat Swapping Autoattack Buffs

In the last update, I noted that the Ambidexterity passive was being removed from Combat, which — as stated within the official patch notes — “was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks.” Which is a lovely sentiment, but one that gets muddied a bit given that Combat is also getting a perk called Improved Dual Wield, which removes the 19% reduced hit chance we suffer by default for using a pair of one-handed weapons — and thus increases our autoattack damage. Rogue theorycrafter Fierydemise took to Twitter to call attention to this; technical game designer Chadd “Celtictron” Nervig parried the debate.

Sap Stays Sappy

PvP honcho Brian “Holinka” Holinka affirms that, despite upcoming adjustments to other forms of crowd control, Sap’s duration is not likely to change.

Band-Aids vs. Knives

Holinka also rebuffed a request to combine Slice and Dice with Recuperate, saying it’s a good choice to force players to choose between offense and defense. (Nevermind Leeching Poison. Speaking of which…)

Versatility Won’t Uber-Boost Leeching Poison

Lead game designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas noted that Versatility, the newly announced secondary stat that will enhance our healing and damage absorption in addition to our damage output, won’t allow Leeching Poison to “double dip.” (Because Leeching is a self-heal that is based off of the amount of damage we deal, it could theoretically benefit from Versatility twice unless the designers do something to stop it — which they apparently plan to do.)

Main Gauche Still Combat’s Main Man

Even though the Multistrike stat will give our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage, Nervig says the designers have no plans to change Combat’s mastery, Main Gauche — which also gives some of our attacks a chance to proc for additional damage. He notes that they’re open to revisiting the issue, however.

Pre-Potting Won’t Break Stealth

Nervig gave a straightforward answer to a request that drinking a potion would no longer break a rogue’s stealth: “Yes.”


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In the run-up to Patch 5.3’s launch this week, Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street and Brian “Holinka” Holinka, among other senior WoW designers, have been making the round on various fansites to preview the patch and explain their thinking behind many of the changes in store.

The Arena Junkies interview with GC and Holinka, which posted over the weekend, includes a few highly rogue-relevant bits, as does today’s interview with Gary Gannon and Olivia Grace on a special episode of’s Legendary. Notable roguey excerpts are copied below. (In the case of the Gamebreaker interview, the transcription is mine, since the source is a video. The AJ transcript excerpts will be copy-pasted as-is from AJ’s site.)

The Find Weakness Change: Making Spells Different in PvE/PvP (Arena Junkies)

(I ranted about this one early this morning.)

Sam: PvE and PvP changes seem to collide very often, do you guys believe that balancing both may require a lot of specific PvP and PvE only changes? An example would be Find Weakness in 5.3.

Brian: Yes, and when we do it. Find weakness is a great example where PvE needed a buff and it would’ve cost big problems to PvP. We keep it in mind and Frost bomb is another example. We try not to do it too often, it’s a lot of things to keep track of. We’re the designers and people on Arena Junkies are really passionate players that really keep up on all the changes, but a lot of players are not. To ask our general player base that your spell does this and it does half damage or 25% or something like that, it’s really not something we want to do too often. Especially hey we want eviscerate to hit 10% less on players. That’s really inconsistent and a tough thing. We usually do it when it’s really a significant thing such as Find Weakness is 50% less and Frost bomb is 40% less.

Greg: There’s also this persistent, I’ll just call it a myth, that if we just bite the bullet and make 2 versions of every spell suddenly we’ll have class balance nailed and it’ll never be a problem again. I’m pretty confident if we went ahead and split sub rogues into 2 abilities on every ability with different damage numbers you’ll still see players saying why they can’t just tune down this one ability that’s costing pvp burst problem. In other words players will still want us to make changes even if we have the numbers split up, I don’t think it’ll suddenly make players feel their class is viable in every situation

Why Rogues Are Being Nerfed (Arena Junkies)

Sam: In the history of changes a lot of nerfs and buffs are really large, which usually changes the “balance” of one class from one to another such as warrior and rogues last patch. Warriors were arguably the top notch class in 5.2 but kind of went to the bottom barrel. Rogues basically had the opposite happen to them. Do you guys think smaller changes would be more ideal or how would you look at it?

Brian Holinka: Obviously when we can we would like to make smaller changes. I think what you saw with rogues in 5.2 was that there were a lot of calls for their survival to be improved. So we made Prep baseline, took Cloak off, so they weren’t constantly unpeelable for 12 seconds, and moved it to a short CD. I think these were good changes, but what pushed rogues over the edge was we tried to create some talents to make them more attractive and give them variety. Shuriken Toss, Mark for Death, and Cloak and Dagger, those were all probably a little bit too much. 5.3 Rogues were really about reigning in those talent changes. We kept the survivability changes the same but we wanted to reign in the unpeelable Cloak and Dagger, the ranged play style of Shuriken Toss, and those were I think really smart changes. We didn’t also nerf Mark for Death and a bunch of other changes. The Find Weakness change was mainly for burst on higher armor targets. We thought that wasn’t appropriate. We made some changes in 5.2 that didn’t mean to be buffs, but for talent choices to be more interesting and we needed to reign those in.

Revisiting Rogue Talents for PvP: 5.2 and 5.3 (Legendary)

Gary Gannon: How do you feel the [PvP class] balance has been in 5.2?


Brian Holinka: I think there were some situations where we were trying to make some talents more interesting from 5.1 to 5.2. For example […] there was a rogue ability called Versatility, and it was not really seeing much play. So we created a new one called Marked for Death. In other situations, like, for instance: […] Preparation was another ability that we actually thought all rogues could benefit from having. So there we had to create a new one, Cloak and Dagger.

So, we were doing a lot of talent work, and in some places, we just overshot a bit. We felt like it made some classes a little bit too good and the talents were just a little bit too good, so we tried to rein those in.

We base our balance feedback on a lot of factors: We look at representations; distribution of ratings across all specs and classes; how people are faring within our team, how they’re playing; we talk to some of the very high level players on a very constant basis. We try and get a sense of where problems lie, and then we try and fix things that we feel are big problems for the overall gameplay of the game — where it just makes everybody’s life a little bit less fun — and we try and affect those.

There’s situations where maybe you can say this or that has made this class even more competitive, but there’s also situations where this talent is just one-shotting people. So we have to look at that, and we have to understand that it’s made the game less fun to play.

Our goals are basically: try and make specs and classes competitive; try and make the overall gameplay environment fun; and then, we wanna say, try and make some talents interesting, and try and make rotations interesting and fun to play. Sometimes we make changes that are a little bit out of priority there, but that’s generally what we try to do. And I think, going in from 5.2 to 5.3, that was a lot of our goal, was to kind of rein in some of the things that got out of control.

Though these three chunks were especially rogue-directed, large sections of both interviews are likely to be of great interest to any PvPing rogue, so be sure to read/tune in to them for a more complete discussion of upcoming changes — and some changes potentially in store for 5.4 and beyond.


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I’ve got some catching up to do with Ghostcrawler rogue tweets; leave it to a cold to snot away a normally-obsessive-compulsive person’s motivation for twitstalking. This one’s from more than a week ago:


Without a doubt, it’s looking like our level-90 talent tier options in Patch 5.2 will be much closer (in terms of their value) in raids and challenge-mode dungeons. Shuriken Toss will allow us to autoattack at range, dramatically increasing its power, and Marked for Death’s five free combo points per minute provides us with a nice little active-DPS bump that may be especially useful for burst situations.

But is either change enough to unseat Anticipation as the talent of choice in end-game PvE?

The gist of the feedback over at Elitist Jerks is that few expect ST or MfD to win out. I’m no whiz-bang theorycrafter, but I’m inclined to agree: It’s hard for me to envision many scenarios in which, *over the course of an entire raid fight*, it would be more valuable for me to

  1. deal decent DPS at range or
  2. gain 5 extra CPs per minute,

instead of using Anticipation, which guarantees me that I will

  1. almost never waste a combo point and
  2. never have to settle for a four-point finisher instead of a five-point finisher.

As of this post, we know next to nothing about most fights in the upcoming raid tier, so there is always a possibility that a surprising number of fight mechanics will favor the buffed ST or the new MfD. But I was one of a number of rogues who, back in the Mists beta, said the same thing about ST and our soon-to-be-dearly-departed level-90 talent Versatility. “But wait!” said I, I said. “Who knows how many raid fights in Mists will require a huge amount of target switching! Or constant running around at range like a maniac?”

I did a Google image search for “maniac.” This came up. How could I not?

The answer turned out to be: Basically none. Or, at least, not enough of a given raid fight required those things to make it more valuable to choose the “old” ST or Versatility over Anticipation.

Maybe that experience has made me more cynical this time around, and I’m being unfair in my negativity. Then again:

For Shuriken Toss — buffed or not — to be more desirable than Anticipation in a given raid fight, it likely means that the fight itself needs to be brutally unfriendly to melee DPS. Designing a fight like that feels like it’d be fundamentally against Blizzard’s current approach to encounter design, which is to allow for a wide range of classes to be viable.

For Marked for Death to be more desirable than Anticipation, we’d need to gain more DPS through getting a magically full CP bar once per minute than we would by never losing a combo point. In most standard fights, that feels unlikely to happen. *Especially* not for Assassination rogues, who gain two CPs (and sometimes three, thanks to Seal Fate) every time they use Mutilate, thus guaranteeing that they’ll be Envenoming at 4 CPs without Anticipation.

But it’s not just Assassination rogues who lose out if they drop Anticipation. Our new-in-Mists DPS cooldown, Shadow Blades (which adds an extra CP onto every CP-building move we use), ensures that other specs lose out, too. Shadow Blades all but requires Anticipation if we want to use it to maximum effectiveness; otherwise we’re either wasting CPs while it’s active, or we’re using smaller finishers.

The only scenario in which I can see MfD potentially being worth that kind of trade-off is a fight that involves a tremendous amount of target switching or a lot of spawning/despawning targets, such that we don’t have a lot of uptime on our targets (reducing the effectiveness of Shadow Blades and reducing the number of CPs we even have the opportunity to gain on our targets). In that scenario, being able to guarantee a quick 5-CPs-and-BAM could be pretty handy. Especially if burst matters.

Let’s kick this rogue up another notch!

But, for the same reason it seems unlikely that we’re going to see raid fights that punish melee DPS enough to make Shuriken Toss the best choice, it feels unlikely we’re going to see raid fights that punish DPS who can’t frequently switch targets all that well.

It may be that the best we can really hope for in Patch 5.2 is that, for those of us who *do* choose to go with Shuriken Toss or MfD on raid fights because we find those abilities more fun to use than Anticipation, our DPS won’t suffer quite as much for our decision as it would have before Patch 5.2.

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Like, seriously, y’all.



Which leads into the obvious question: If completely rejiggering (without removing) Versatility is on the table — whether for Patch 5.2 or beyond — how would you rejigger it? Keep in mind that this needs to be within the context of a talent that is fun, meaningful and powerful, but *wouldn’t* be so powerful that it clearly overshadows the other two options in that tier. Assuming it remains a talent within our level-90 tier at all.

Let’s say, just for the sake of pure speculation, that Versatility was rewritten so that it made combo points stack on the rogue. GC has long been fundamentally opposed to this (as have other Blizzfolk), and it’s probably unlikely to become a reality. But what if it did? Would that not just make it the obvious choice in PvP? And would it do anything at all to unseat Anticipation as the undisputed talent for PvE? Leaving Shuriken Toss to wither away, alone and neglected, pining for happier times?

(I’ve cross-posted this over on the WoW rogue forum; if I’m feeling especially productive I’ll copypasta highlighted posts from there in this thread for the sake of posterity/consolidation.)

UPDATE 12/21:



I’m thinking he probably isn’t just referring to Versatility.

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Ghostcrawler (and a few other Blizzfolk) made the fansite rounds this week, chatting about a huge range of issues related to how much of the new majiggers introduced with Mists have been working out so far.

I wanted to call particular attention to these chunks of two separate interviews in which GC talked about how the new talent system has worked out, why no major changes have happened yet, and what guidelines he and the class-design people are following as they ponder whether (and what) to do about problem areas. (What follows is my transcription of the audio, so any typos/mistakes are my burden to bear.)

And yes, he mentions rogues. A little bit. (So does one of the interviewers, who gets THREE (3!) Rogue Points for doing so. That gives him three more Rogue Points than anyone has ever had in history. )

First there’s this, which is from the 12/4 episode of Legendary on (posted 12/4). The quoted bit starts at 23:40.

Gary Gannon: “How’s the new talent system working out?”

Greg Street (Ghostcrawler): “I’d say, overall, it’s working out pretty well. We actually have a meeting today — later on — where we’re gonna start analyzing for 5.2: OK, what are the talents that just nobody takes, or what are the talents that everyone takes, and are they taking it because the other ones suck, or are they taking it because they’re often in a situation where its useful, or because its easier, or whatever. … There are definitely some tiers that look great, and all three talents are getting used, and there’s kind of theorycrafting debates on the best one, and players swap in and out of them all the time. Then there are some that, like: Every player has X. I think that isn’t really delivering on what we promised the feature would be, and we kind of owe it to players to take a look at those and try to un-cookie-cutter them where possible.”

Josh Allen: “I know a couple of the complaints that come to mind, like: There’s two non-lethal rogue poisons that you can take in separate tiers of the rogue talent system. So it’s like, if you take one of those, then you can’t really use the other one anyway. But then turning around and looking at my paladin, for example, there’s like the end tier — especially in PvE, the final tier — you’re kind of swapping between at least two of them. Do you feel like it’s at least OK if it’s at least two of them that you’re swapping between? Or is it something that you really want all three of them to be viable options for everybody?”

Greg Street: “Our rule of thumb is particularly, like: Within, say, PvP, there should be two viable options. Or for a Holy paladin, there should be two viable options. If we can deliver on three, that’s awesome. But it kinda sucks if you look at: 100% or 99% of protection paladins pick this talent — you know, they pick Light’s Hammer instead of Execution Sentence — then we don’t think that’s really fair to players, and we owe it to them to try to make the others more competitive. …

“We’re even OK with a talent that isn’t used commonly, but sometimes you really want it because it’s awesome in certain situations. Even that feels OK. And that’s much harder to measure: You can’t just look at stats to be like, well, nobody has this talent when they logged off. Maybe they took the talent for an hour and then swapped out of it again. That’s still a better situation than: The talent that is literally a dead talent and nobody in their right mind would ever take it.”

Next we’ve got this, which is from episode #322 of the All Things Azeroth podcast (posted 12/5). The quoted bit starts around 56:10.

Medros: “Which classes do you feel could still use some adjustments in the new talent system?”

Greg Street (Ghostcrawler): “I have a meeting this very day where we’re starting to go through all of the talent feedback. For 5.1, we really didn’t want to mess with talents much. But we feel like now’s the time to look at the talents, for the 5.2 patch, of: What are players taking too frequently, and why are they taking it? Is it because it’s overpowered? Is it because the other options are too situational?

“It’s not gonna be a gigantic shakeup; it’s gonna be a lot of number tweaking, of: ‘Oh, well, this ability is fine, it’s just undertuned. So by changing cooldowns, durations, things like that, we’ll get players to use it again.’ Others may be too situational, and we’re gonna take a big look at that. …

“I think there’s some rogue talents, definitely, that no-one is taking at all, that we need to take a hard look at. I’m trying to think of another one that we’ve talked about so much — that’s one of the ones we were talking about today, that’s why it’s fresh on my mind.

“I’d say, overall, the system has worked out well, and there’s a fair amount of diversity for classes overall. We just have a couple of rows here and there where almost everyone is taking the same choice, and PvP and PvE may be a little different. We want to encourage a little more diversity there.”

There’s not a whole lot to read into here; none of what GC says is a surprise, and he doesn’t provide specifics on particular rogue tiers he and his team are planning to look into (though it’s pretty reasonable to think that at least the level-90 tier is likely to experience some changes, due to his earlier tweet on the subject and the overwhelming popularity of Anticipation so far in the expansion compared to Versatility’s dead-fish impression).

So, people who already feel like Blizz hasn’t done enough to address rogue issues won’t take any new hope away from these interviews, and will continue to feel angry and frustrated, giving them plenty of reason to keep making stereotypically furious posts in the WoW forums. Meanwhile, those who feel like things are mostly fine and don’t need any huge changes will likely be pleased. So it’s a win for all of us any way you slice it, really.

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@JamesWire1: “@Ghostcrawler Rogue – I’ve read theorycrafting on using Versatility for some fights, but Anticipation still wins out. No real choice there.”

@Ghostcrawler: “@JamesWire1 we fear that Anticipation just does what Versatility is trying to do better.”

@srzbznz: “@Ghostcrawler @JamesWire1 You ‘fear’….? You ‘FEAR’? Perhaps if your team listened to feedback sooner you would have ‘KNOWN’.”

@Ghostcrawler: “@srzbznz if we listened to all feed, mages would have 1 mil dps by now. It’s listening to the right feed. Know solve for that? Let us know!”

Twitterized 11/17/2012

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@Raimu21: “@Ghostcrawler serious question, does blizzard have numbers on how many people have taken versatility as a talent? I’m betting its VERY low.”

@Ghostcrawler: “@Raimu21 We do, and it is low. We’re looking at all unpopular and too popular talents and considering changes.”

Twitterized 11/16/2012

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