Archive for April, 2010

29
Apr
10

A Rogue in Icecrown Citadel – Rotface

As with all of my guides, this is not intended to be a strategy for the whole raid.  It is only intended for rogues and other melee dps classes.  For a full strategy guide check WoWWiki .

The Rotface fight is basically the opposite of his sibling/friend/whatever Festergut.  Where Festergut is a pure stand-still dps race, Rotface is about situational awareness, mobility, and keeping out of the bad stuff.

The Rotface fight needs two tanks – one for Rotface and another for the slimes.  If you use your Tricks of the Trade to send threat to the tank, then set it to the Rotface tank.  When the fight opens, you’ll settle in behind the boss and start your attack rotation.  Get as much damage done as you can quickly, because you won’t be standing there for long.  Its not a bad idea to pop some cooldowns right off the bat before things start to get hectic.

The easy part – Rotface vomits occasionally in an arbitrary direction, doing damage to anyone in melee range that he faces.  Its easy to avoid.  He turns and faces someone other than the tank and starts to vomit.  You strafe to his other side or run through him and keep attacking.  There are some strategies that organize the raid into two parts (right foot and left foot) and has them move as a group to avoid the vomit.  I’ve never found that to be necessary on 10-man, although it might be more important in 25.  If he turns toward you, move to another side.  He has no cleave so its not a problem if you end up in front of him when he’s done vomiting.

The tricky part is when you get targeted with a Mutated Infection.  It puts a DoT on you and reduces the healing you receive by 50%.  Your Cloak of Shadows will get rid of it but DON’T CLOAK YET. Be patient…

After 12 seconds with the Mutated Infection, or whenever it is dispelled, the infection goes away but a Little Ooze will spawn and aggro on whoever had the infection.  It has essentially infinite aggro, so it can’t be taunted away.  It will chase its target and attack and also do AoE damage.

The way to get rid of it is to get it near another Little Ooze.  When two Little Oozes are close, they merge into a Big Ooze.  Big Oozes can be taunted and kited.

So here’s what a rogue should do.  If you get Mutated Infection, there is no rush.  As long as the healers know you have it, they can HoT you and you won’t die.  You can even keep dpsing the boss for a few more seconds.  After a couple of seconds, drop one last finisher on Rotface and then go out to find the Ooze tank, who will be circling the edge of the room.  Avoid stepping in any green stuff, of course.

You will find the Ooze tank and he will probably be kiting another ooze.  Get in front of his path.  At that time, you can Cloak to get rid of the Mutated Infection (or let a paladin or priest dispel it if you prefer).  The Little Ooze will spawn and start to attack you, but should quickly merge with the other ooze.  Then you want to get out of there quickly, because the big ooze does significant AoE damage.

This is the most crucial part of the fight.  If raiders aren’t managing their infections properly and getting the oozes merged, then the healers will have a hard time with the damage on multiple targets.  You need to find the ooze tank quickly and get the ooze absorbed efficiently.  Sprint is useful here because it will get you to the ooze tank in a hurry, and also gets you out of AoE damage range of the ooze as it follows you.

Note that it is your job to make sure that your Little Ooze merges before you run back to the raid.  If you jump the gun, you’ll drag the Little Ooze back into the raid with you which will do AoE damage to everyone.

Avoid the green puddles which are randomly around the room.  Also, Professor Putricide floods 1/4 of the room at a time with slime, so don’t run in that either.  If the ooze tank is in the slime, meet him on the other side of the pool.

Once your ooze is merged, go back to the boss and get back to doing damage.  Feel free to use your cooldowns whenever they are up.  If you get a Mutated Infection just as you pop a cooldown you can stay on Rotface for a few more seconds and pump out some more dps before running toward the ooze tank.

There’s one more thing to worry about.  When the Big Ooze has absorbed 5 Little Oozes it becomes Unstable.  It does a lot of AoE damage and sprays slime around.  From everything I have read, it seems like the slime is targeted at the time that it becomes Unstable.  So if your raid moves out to the edge of the room, you will avoid it completely.  Let your tank choose what direction to go, and he’ll pull Rotface that way.  You can just follow along and keep doing damage.

Threat won’t be a problem on this fight.  Since you’ll spend a fair amount of time off target as you run around with the Mutated Infection, the tank should be able to build a big threat lead, so you can use your Tricks on another dps.

This fight is not too hard as dps.  Its a big strain on healers and a kiting test for the ooze tank.  Once the ooze tank gets the rhythm down the rest of the fight should fall into place.

There’s not much in the way of rogue drops for you on 10-man.  There is a pretty good thrown weapon – Gluth’s Fetching Knife, or a fist weapon – Abomination Knuckles.

The 25-man fight has a great Mutilate 1.8 speed dagger – Rib Spreader.  A nice iLvL 264 ring called the Seal of Many Mouths drops here as well.  Lastly, there is a nice pair of gloves with some Armor Pen for you combat rogues – Aldriana’s Gloves of SecrecyThat name is a tribute to the EJ theorycrafter well-known for her dps spreadsheets.

27
Apr
10

Using the LFD to level part 2 – the home stretch

I made an earlier post detailing my project to level using only the LFD system. Its gone well up to this week.  However, I’m now concerned that I won’t have the persistence to finish.

What changed?  Two things, and I’m not sure if they are related.

  1. I hit level 70 and am now queueing in Wrath instances
  2. Queue times have spiked up to 30-40 minutes

Now that I’ve reached current content in Wrath, the amount of XP it takes to level has jumped.  To get from level 69-70 took a little over 700k XP.  To get from level 70-71 takes over 1.5 million.  Twice as much XP means twice as many instance runs needed to level.

Yesterday I did a clear of UK, and it earned me 12% of a level.  At that rate I would need around 8-9 instance runs to gain a level, compared to 3-4 runs per level previously.

This was not unexpected, as the XP needed to level is not a secret.  However, in the past few days I have seen the queue time go from 15-20 minutes up to 30-40 minutes. Why has this happened?  Are there fewer players in the 70-72 range?  Or has this happened across all levels?  I’m hearing from people that queue times are high all over.

If I need 8 instance runs to level, and each run involves waiting 30 minutes in queue, that is four hours of downtime sitting in Stormwind doing nothing just to get one level.  Whew… what a great way to make use of my $15 per month.

The obvious solution is that I should go out and quest during the downtime.  That’s not the point of this project, though.  If I give in and quest to fill the time, then I will consider this project a failure.

For the moment I’m sticking with it.  I’m going to make sure that I only play when I’ve got a lot of rested bonus built up.  That means a couple of days off in between each attempt at running instances.  Also, I’m going to try and latch onto a level 72 tank in my guild and see if I can queue with him for faster times.  Still, at this rate I cannot imagine how long it will take for me to get to 80.  I think it may take as long to get from 70-80 as it took to get from 25-70.

26
Apr
10

Changes to Raiding in Cataclysm

Blizzard today announced a big, big change to the way that raid lockouts will be managed in the future.  The full link is here, but the TL;DR version is:

  • The 10 and 25 man versions of an instance will share a lockout.  In a given week you can do the 10-man or 25-man raid, but not both.
  • The 10 and 25 man versions of an instance will drop the exact same loot.  The 25 man will drop more of it, and possibly more Emblems as well.  25-man raids will still be the most efficient way to gear people up, if you have the numbers for it.
  • The 10 and 25-man versions of an instance will be tuned to be very comparable to another in difficulty.
  • The first few raid tiers will have multiple smaller raids rather than one huge (Naxx) raid.  You can hit all of them each week, or alternate to vary your raiding experience.

When you read the comments about this, the change is largely applauded by the community.  Sure, there are varying opinions and there are some who think that this is the end of raiding as we know it.  I think the same things were said when we went from 40 to 25 man raids in BC, and then from 25 to 10/25 in Wrath.

Here’s the point of view from me – the GM of a casual raiding guild that struggles to get 25 every week.

On one hand, for our core members, its great.  If we do 10-man raids, we don’t have to fret that we’re a half-tier of gear behind players who are doing 25-man raids.  We’ll all have access to the same loot.  Sure, the guilds that run heroic versions will have better gear, but that’s not a problematic issue.

On the other hand, its going to force me to make a decision.  Currently, we walk the line between 10 and 25 man content.  We run 10-man ICC with our core group on weeknights, and then desperately try to get a 25-man raid together with the whole guild on weekends.  We can do this because 10 and 25 man raids are on separate lockouts.

This change is going to force me to pick a direction.  Either we’ll focus on 10-mans every week or 25-mans every week.  Since we currently have trouble getting 25 regularly, it would seem logical to focus on 10-mans.  Ideally we’ll be able to field two 10-man teams every week.  If not, though, then there are a lot of guildies who will be left out in the cold.

Right now, when we fail to field a 25-man team, and our core group runs 10-man, it excludes a lot of players.  We hate to do it, but its the bind we’re in.  Fortunately, those players can usually PuG ICC 10 or 25 and get some rep and maybe some loot and still be satisifed.  Under this new system, I think PuGs will be harder to come by.

The only people who will PuG will be players who do not run 10 OR 25 man raids with their guild.  Running either one gets you saved to both.  So who will be in PuGs?  Players who are guildless?  Alts?  Players who are not good enough to be included in their guild runs?  That doesn’t sound like a healthy PuG culture.

So, if we focus on 10-mans, I worry that our membership will dwindle as the players outside the core group will leave to go to guilds where they are included in raids and are not dependent on PuGs.  That would make me sad.

My hope is that we get a burst of player activity when Cataclysm drops, and we’ll have enough to do 25 mans and it won’t be a problem.  Fingers crossed!

22
Apr
10

Another blogger from my guild

Despite being very casual, my guild has always enjoyed a measure of stability and success.  No offense meant to the dps and tanks in my guild that read this blog, but a huge part of our guild’s strength is our healing corps.  Since BC, we have reaped the benefits of a very talented group of healers.  (We also have outstanding tanks… see Primal Precision for evidence)

The top dog among the healers in my guild has recently started his own blog about playing as a resto druid.  Its called I Be A Tree.  If you’re a druid, or any healer type, take note.  He knows his stuff.

P.S. – Pretty soon, every time something interesting happens in the guild there is going to be a race of people alt-tabbing out of the game to blog about it.

21
Apr
10

Back on Track

My guild’s raiding has been stalled for quite a while now.  We’re sooooo close to having 25 for our raids that we refuse to give up on doing ICC 25.  Every week the guild core won’t let ourselves get saved to ICC 25, just in case we get enough for a guild run.  But then we don’t do ICC 10 either, because that’s our backup plan and we don’t want everyone to get saved to that before raid night.

So, every week its been about the same… wait for raid night, don’t have enough for 25, go to ICC 10 instead, get the first 4-5 bosses down.  Repeat next week.

Finally – things changed.  The buff from Varian Wrynn allows us to clear through the farm content very quickly.  We did the first 6 bosses in one 2-hour evening of raiding, and then found ourselves with time available the next night to move on to new content.

Happily, we were able to do Blood Princes and Dreamwalker on our first night of attempts.  We also got Putricide to Phase 3, so we’re close on that fight.  It was a good week.

Yes, we have the 10% buff from Wrynn.

Yes, we’re a couple of months behind the progression wave.

I don’t care.  I’m happy that we’ve moved forward at long last.

We’ve bounced around the idea of switching our guild’s focus to ICC 10 instead of 25, but we gained a few new people recently and we’re still sooooo close to fielding a 25 man team.

_______________________________

It was pointed out to me that I never did my boss guides for all of the ICC fights.  There’s a reason.  I won’t do a guide for a boss I haven’t killed, and my guild was so far behind in progression that I assumed the guides would be pointless now because most of us have already done the first 8-10 fights.  Still, I guess I’ll write them up for the sake of completeness.

20
Apr
10

Look at all the Horsies

Celestial SteedThose Celestial Steeds are all over the place.

Bloggers everywhere are gushing about their pretty ponies.

Armies of these things are surrounding Dalaran banks and ICC summoning stones.

Am I the only one that thinks that its not worth almost two month’s of subscription fees to get something that you barely use in the game?

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a mount collector.  In BC, once I got my flying I bought a single gryphon, and then when I got epic flying I picked up one Nether Ray, and that was it.  To me, the flying mount was a means of getting from place to place.  The vast majority of my game time is not mounted, so it didn’t seem like a worthwhile pursuit.

At least in BC the epic flying mount got you places faster than the taxis, so there was a purpose.  In Wrath the taxis are generally faster.  The only time I use a flying mount is to go to ICC or fly up to Ulduar.

As an aside, my utter lack of interest in mounts has made for a funny situation in my guild.  We have two hardcore mount collectors – going for the Mountain o’ Mounts achievement.  They are both pretty close, but missing the rarer ones.

So when we are in a group, I invariably jump onto my Black Drake from Sartharion 3D.  Or my Blue Proto-Drake from Skadi in Utgarde Pinnacle.  Or, the worst, my Blue Drake from Oculus.  I have gotten that Blue Drake in my bag six times after finishing random heroics in Oculus.  My two friends have yet to see it.

I don’t go out of my way to get mounts, so I won’t be getting a sparkly pony.  I’m not criticizing those who have the disposable income to get the RMT mounts and pets, but its not for me.  With three WoW accounts in my house, Blizzard already gets enough of my money.

19
Apr
10

My Next Frost Emblem Purchase

I’m at a crossroads in my Emblem purchases.  Making things worse, the different resources I used are giving me conflicting guidance.  I decided to write out my thought process went, in part to help me organize the information and in part because others might like to see what I do when its time to upgrade my gear.  Caution:  this rambles on for quite a bit.

Recap:

My first Emblem purchase was the Herkumi War Token trinket.  That was a no-brainer.

After that, I chose to pass on the Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape in hopes that I would eventually get the Shawl of Nerubian Silk from Marrowgar 10.  It took a while, but that decision did pay off.

Instead of getting the cloak, I used my 2nd and 3rd Emblem purchases to go straight for my 2-piece T10 bonus.  I bought the Shadowblade Gauntlets and Shadowblade Breastplate because they were the best upgrades based on the gear I had in those slots at the time.

Now I’ve accumulated 125 Frost Emblems and I’m looking for my next purchases.  Here’s how I evaluated my options.

My first resource was to WoWHead’s gear ranking service to see what’s out there.  I used the stat weights given by Elitist Jerks and got these results.  Comparing those results to my current gear, the best options would be either Bladeborn Leggings, the Shadowblade Legplates (if I’m moving toward the T10 4-piece bonus) or Footpads of Impending Death.  The Bladeborn Leggings and Footpads are both crafted, but I’d use my Frost Emblems to buy Primordial Saronites so I include them as Emblem purchases.  Another good option is the Shadow Seekers Tunic, but that would break my T10 set bonus so its out for the time being.

Since I am not running ICC 25 or heroic ICC 10 right now, any of these options would be the top available piece I could expect to get in their respective slots.

Armed with that information, I pulled out Aldriana’s Mutilate spreadsheet.  With my current gear and spec input, I replaced my items one at a time with the various options to see the effect on my optimal dps figures.  Using that tool, the result was very clear… the Bladeborn Leggings were far and away the biggest theoretical impact on my dps.  Nothing else was even close.

In fact, according to the spreadsheet the Bladeborn Leggings by themselves are a bigger upgrade than getting both the Shadowblade Legplates and the Shadowblade Helmet to get my 4-piece T10 bonus.

That surprised me a little.  While the Bladeborn Leggings are certainly nice, they have armor penetration which is not an optimal stat for mutilate rogues.  That doubt has made me a bit hesitant… 8 Primordial Saronite is a big expense and I don’t want to blow that much gold and emblems without being certain.  I know that rogues live and die by the spreadsheet predictions, but should I blindly follow what seems to be against common sense?

Looking for more input for my decision, I went to Mavanas Rogue DPS Simulation Spreadsheet.  This isn’t as user-friendly as Aldriana’s, and the interface is not as intuitive.  After the setup process, I let it run some DPS simulations in my current gear.  Then I switched individual gear items to see the difference.  This spreadsheet doesn’t calculate based on a formula, but rather does many, many iterations of simulated attack sequences to find the expected damage output.  That spreadsheet gave different results that Aldriana’s – saying that the Bladeborn Leggings are still a very good upgrade, but not as good as replacing both Shadowblade head + legs together.  However, I don’t have enough Emblems to buy both pieces of Shadowblade at this time, so that’s not a real option.

Here are the different combinations I tried in both spreadsheets:

  • upgrade to Bladeborn Leggings (cost: 115 Emblems + 4800 gold for the other 3 Saronites)
  • upgrade to Footpads of Impending Death  (cost: 115 Emblems for Saronites)
  • upgrade to both Shadow Seeker’s Tunic AND Shadowblade Pauldrons (to keep my T10 2-pc bonus)  (cost: 155 Emblems, which I will have in about 2 weeks)
  • upgrade to both Shadowblade Legplates AND Shadowblade Helmet, thus getting my 4-pc T10 bonus (cost: 190 Emblems, which I will have in about 5 weeks)

The last option is the best according to Mavanas, and second best according to Aldriana.  However, I don’t feel like waiting 5 weeks to get my next upgrade.  So I’m focusing on the other choices.

Looks like the Bladeborn Leggings will win out here, BUT there is one more thing to consider!  Am I likely to get any drops that are comparable to the Emblem purchases?

My guild right now can clear the first six bosses in ICC 10 in one raid night.  The only drop in there that needs to be considered are the Plague-Soaked Leather Leggings from Festergut.  Not surprisingly, these are not as big an upgrade as the Bladeborn Leggings.  However, they also don’t cost me anything except patience as I wait for the drop.

After including that in my decision, the choice became clear.  I should buy the Footpads of Impending Death now and wait for the Plague-Soaked Leather Leggings to drop from Festergut.  If I go a few weeks without the drop, then I’ll re-evaluate.

09
Apr
10

Further Clarification on Rogue Changes in Cataclysm

As Blizzard has released each class preview, they have gone on to issue some follow-up comments based on forum feedback.  Here’s what’s been said so far (with no comments from me).

  • To clarify on Combat Readiness: when activated being hit will build up the Combat Insight buff. If not struck within 6 seconds of the last hit it will fall off and the Combat Readiness state will end. If the rogue continues to be hit however Combat Insight will continue to reapply, and it can be applied up to a maximum of 30 seconds total..
  • Recuperate is long overdue, and will be interesting to see how much it actually heals for.

    Numbers aren’t quite hammered out yet but it restores based on max health and the more combo points used the longer it lasts. While it’s introduced as a low level ability it obviously scales with gear and base health upgrades (being based on max health and all) and be useful for more than just leveling.

  • Combat readiness says it refreshes the timer each time you’re attacked so does that mean it’ll stay up as long as you’re being attacked within the 6 seconds?

    Yes, and can be up for a total of 30 seconds.

  • Some of you are focused too much on the word “cooldown.” Consider for a moment what the abilities actually do. The current traditional PvP encounter with a rogue is to jump out at someone from stealth, then try to burn them down while applying a chain of stuns. One of two things happen (i.e. it’s a pretty binary outcome): you kill the target in time, or you run out ouf stuns and the target kills you. Now I know that situation is kind of stereotypical perhaps to the point of contrivance, but you should get the basic idea.

    We want to make that outcome less binary. With abilities like Combat Readiness you should be able to go toe to toe with a plate wearer for a short period of time. With Smoke Bomb, you should be able to escape spells for a short period of time, or at least get the caster to move closer to you. Does this mean you’re now a plate-wearer instead of a rogue? Of course not. But it means you aren’t so dependent on killing things while they’re locked down. It means you get to think on your feet a little rather than apply a pre-determined sequence of attacks that either succeeds or fails.

    In addition, with the boosts to leather armor and Stamina though, you will be a little tougher to kill even without any cooldowns.

  • We’ve said something similar in some of the other previews, but let me address real quick why we didn’t add new damage-dealing openers, cp generators or finishers. It’s because you have plenty of openers, cp generators and finishers.

    We don’t want to add new abilities for the sake of adding them, and in fact we’ve spent a lot of the last two expansions trying to make sure your full arsenal of attacks had a purpose. We don’t want to consider the hypothetical level 120 rogue and imagine that you have four versions of Ambush and a whole action bar of Sinister Strike with various subtle shades of distinction.

    We do like to add new abilities, because that’s an exciting part of a new expansion. But we like to find roles for them. Some are going to necessarily be more situational, but that’s why we offer them as core abilities rather than talents that have a heftier cost.

  • One more point: Fan of Knives was not nerfed. I’m not sure where that concept is coming from unless you are interpreting that from changing the weapon it’s based on to the ranged weapon. We didn’t talk much about numbers, so unless you see “We want this abilitiy to do less damage,” then you’re just jumping to conclusions. It’s safer to assume that every number in the game is changing, but the relative roles of abilities and talents are staying the same unless we specify otherwise (not that we’re listing every single talent tree change in these previews – far from it.)

    We just want the ranged weapon to be more than a stat stick for rogues. Adding poisons to FoK is actually a pretty hefty buff. Yes, this means that bows and guns aren’t of much interest to rogues (after leveling). But in this case we want Fan of KNIVES to be taken literally. :)

    Now, having said all that, we suspect you will AE less often in Cataclysm. You’ll CC more and you’ll burn targets down one at a time more often. But that just means all classes will do less damge with AEs. That’s not a rogue nerf.

09
Apr
10

Cataclysm Rogue Preview

Much like a rogue, the Cataclysm rogue changes snuck up in the darkness of night (at least for those living in the eastern US).  The preview details some new skills and proposed changes.  There are some good changes, and a couple of real exciting ones.  Overall, they seemed more incomplete than the other previews we have seen.  There were a lot of “we want to…” and “we’d like to see…” statements with no detail on how they will accomplish them.

Note that there are no real big damage abilities here.  Almost all of the changes are for utility and survivability and PvP.  Blizzard has said in the past that rogues are in a good place as far as PvE damage and playability, so they are clearly not trying to make any sweeping changes.

Here they are: (my comments in italics below each ability)

New Rogue Abilities

Redirect (available at level 81) : Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue’s current target, helping to ensure combo points aren’t wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.

This is very, very, very cool at first glance.We all know the pain of a target dying just before we get to use that 5-point finisher, and then losing those combo points when we switch targets.

This mostly helps with trash fights and heroics.  There are some boss fights where this would be handy (Faction Champions in ToC, for example) but most boss fights are single-target.

Its also going to be a big help in PvP.  Hit that mage a few times and build up combo points.  What?  He ice-blocked? OK, turn and use those combo points to slam a big finisher on that priest standing there.

My disappointment with this is that its a level 81 skill.  It seems to me that if they are going to make this change, then it should be built into rogues from level 1.  It will seem odd to lose your combo points when you switch targets from level 1-80, but then keep them from level 81-85.

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Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.

A survivability talent.  Like Cloak of Shadows but for physical damage.  This is pvp-oriented.  Note the way Blizzard says its for rogues to go “toe-to-toe with other melee classes” implying that this is purely for pvp.  Now we can pop Cloak of Shadows + Combat Readiness and we’ll have 90% magic immunity for 5 seconds and 50% physical damage immunity for 6 seconds.  In PvE this is another “oh crap!” button, but we already have a ton of those (Vanish, Cloak, Evasion, Sprint, Feint).

Since I don’t pvp much, this talent is not very meaningful to me, but I’m sure that other rogues will love it.

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Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.

I love this idea!  It so fits in with the sneaky ninja model of the rogue.  Its nice when Blizzard can get a good ability that is both useful in its mechanics AND fit in with the lore of the class.  We get to create our own line-of-sight for pulls.

Its another good talent for PvP.  If you can isolate a target in melee range, you pop a Smoke Cloud around you and his buddies at range can’t do anything to help him. I picture this being a particular annoyance to hunters.

That said, how often will we get to use this in PvE?  Line-of-sight pulls?  OK, how often do we do that?  When do we have boss fights where we are being targeted from range?  Can you get your whole raid inside the cloud?  Or will we pop the Smoke Cloud and the healer in the back is outside the cloud so he gets focus-fired down?  I doubt that Blizzard will design encounters around this, so it becomes just another utility in PvE.  I’m sure that someone will find creative uses for it, though.

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Overall the three new abilities that were previewed are… interesting. But lets but to the chase here.  We rogues are about damage.  What we got were utility abilities.  The Redirect ability will improve our damage on certain fights, but not on boss fights where we have only one target.  The other two abilities are niche skills and, while neat ideas, they have limited application in PvE.  They have great potential in PvP, though.

But wait, there’s more…

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.

Creative wording… but this basically says “nerf stunlocks”.  For the rogues who have learned to stunlock effectively, this change in playstyle might be a big disappointment.  For those of us who pvp only rarely and have never mastered the art of the stunlock, an increase in passive survivability will be a big help.

  • In PvE, even accounting for active modifiers like Slice and Dice and Envenom, a very large portion of the rogue’s damage is attributable to passive sources of damage. Yes, they are using abilities for the entire duration of a fight, but we want to reduce the percentage of rogue damage that comes from auto-attacks and poisons. More of their damage will be coming from active abilities and special attacks.

No specifics here so I can’t really comment.  Yes, we get over 50% of our damage from autoattacks.  I’ll be interested to see how Blizzard does this without reducing our overall damage.  They can’t just reduce our white damage unless they increase our specials damage.  And if they do that, it has PvP implications.  We’ll just have to wait to see how this plays out.

  • We would like to improve the rogue leveling experience. Positional attacks and DoT-ramping mechanics will be de-emphasized at low levels and then re-introduced at higher levels for group gameplay. We are also providing rogues with a new low-level ability, Recuperate, to convert combo points into a small heal-over-time (HoT).

Recuperate is very, very cool.  It gives and extra option with those combo points.  Big finisher, or HoT yourself?  This will be great in solo play while leveling and should reduce downtime spent bandaging or eating between fights.

I don’t know that the other changes are needed so much.  Most rogues that I know level as Combat spec, so they have few positional requirements.  Yes, its harder to level as Subtlety (as I did back in vanilla WoW) but its not so bad that it needs huge changes to accommodate it.  I hope these changes are minor.  Again, wait and see…

  • To complement the change to combo points, non-damage abilities such as Recuperate and Slice and Dice will no longer have target requirements and can be used with any of the rogue’s existing combo points, including combo points remaining on recently killed targets. This will not affect damage abilities, which will still require combo points to be present on the specific target you want to damage. To coincide with this, the UI will be updated so that rogues know how many combo points they have active.

I like this a lot.  Imagine that you end a fight and you have combo points left.  As you move toward the next target you can pop SnD with those leftover points before you even enter combat.  That dramatically reduces the ramp-up time when starting a fight.  This is also a good change for solo play.

  • Ambush will now work with all weapons, but will have a reduced coefficient when not using a dagger. When opening from Stealth, all rogues will be able to choose from burst damage, DoT abilities, or a stun.

That’s also good for leveling rogues.  It stinks to spend the gold to train Ambush, then realize that you can’t use it because you have a sword.  It could also be good for raiding Combat rogues, depending on the coefficient.  Combat rogues these days open with garrote or just autoattack, or don’t even bother with stealth at all. Ambush might be a good other option.

  • As we’ve done recently with some of the Subtlety abilities, we want to make sure more rogue abilities aren’t overly penalized by weapon choice. With a few exceptions (like Backstab), you should be able to use a dagger, axe, mace, sword, or fist weapon without being penalized for most attacks.

A very sensible change, especially since they are getting rid of weapon skill so we will be able to use whatever weapon we have on hand.

  • Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives will now use the weapon in the ranged slot. In addition, we hope to allow rogues to apply poisons to their throwing weapons.

Uh oh.  They “hope” to allow rogues to poison their throwing weapons?

This sounds to me like rogues won’t be able to use bows or guns anymore.  You can’t do a Fan of Knives if your ranged weapon is a gun.  So I expect rogues to be restricted to throwing weapons.  I hope they put more thrown weapons in the game, then.

This sounds like trouble to me.  If we can poison our thrown weapons, it has pvp implications.  We could apply Crippling Poison to a target at range with a thrown weapon, then run him down while he’s slowed.  No more kiting rogues around.  On the other hand, if we can’t poison our thrown weapons, then this is a big nerf to Fan of Knives.

I’m not sure what Blizzard is thinking here.  Class previews are supposed to get us excited, and they don’t usually announce nerfs with that.  Maybe I’m reading this wrong.

  • We are very happy with Tricks of the Trade as a general mechanic and as a way to give rogues more group utility, but we don’t want it to account for as much threat transfer as it does now.

I’m glad you’re happy with TotT.  So are we.  Please don’t mess it up.  :)

_____________________________________

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage.
  • Combat will be all about swords, maces, fist weapons, axes, and being engaged toe-to-toe with your enemies. A Combat rogue will be able to survive longer without needing to rely on Stealth and evasion mechanics.
  • The Subtlety tree will primarily be based around utilizing Stealth, openers, finishers, and survivability. It’ll be about daggers, too, but less so than Assassination.
  • Weapon-specialization talents (for all classes, not just rogues) are going away. We do not want you to have to respec when you get a different weapon. Interesting talents, such as Hack and Slash, will work with all weapons. Boring talents, such as Mace Specialization and Close Quarters Combat, will be going away.
  • In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools.
  • The Assassination and Combat talent trees currently have a lot of passive bonuses. We plan to dial back the amount of Critical Strike Rating provided by these trees so that rogues still want it on their gear.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Assassination
Melee damage
Melee critical damage
Poison damage

Combat
Melee damage
Melee Haste
Harder-hitting combo-point generators

Subtlety
Melee damage
Armor Penetration
Harder-hitting finishers

The initial tier of rogue Mastery bonuses will be very similar between the trees. However, the deeper that a player goes into any tree, the more specialized and beneficial the Masteries will be to the play style for that spec. Assassination will have better poisons than the other two specs. Combat will have very steady and consistent overall damage. Subtlety will have strong finishers.

The Mastery stuff is much less fleshed-out than it was for the other classes.  Its very vague.  It seems like rogues are still a work in progress.

When leveling, since the enemies die pretty quickly, I think that we’d rather have bigger hits rather than better poisons.  Depending how significant the mastery bonuses are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more rogues spec Subtlety to level 80-85, then switch to combat or assassination for endgame.  Or maybe this time they will get Sub damage up to the point where it is raid-viable.

_____________________________________

I don’t think that there are any huge changes here, and I’m OK with that.  However, there also nothing really super-exciting.  The shaman changes announced yesterday were so cool it made me wish I had a shaman to play.  I don’t think any non-rogues are going to look at these changes and roll a rogue because of it.

One question, Blizzard?  Where’s my fix for Vanish?

08
Apr
10

Talking About Stuff I Know Nothing About

Yesterday Blizzard released previews of the changes to shaman, warlock, and priest.  I have only played one of those classes for any length (I have an 80 priest that I rarely play).  The other two I never got past level 5.

Still, despite the fact that I’m not an authority on any of those classes, here’s some of my impressions.

They released the shaman one first, which was a good idea because it was clearly the best, in my opinion.  Healing rain is a perfect addition to the game – it gives the class a new, powerful ability that expands their role, AND it fits beautifully in with the lore of the class as a nature-based healer.  Earthquake, without having any details yet, strikes me the same way.

The warlock and priest previews were much less exciting.  There were a lot of “more of the same” kinds of abilities.  There was nothing that grabbed you and made you say “wow!”  (well, the Life Grip for priests might, but mostly it made me lol).  I do think that the proposed changes make both classes better.  However, the changes to the shaman are intriguing and might actually make someone roll a shaman to try them.  The changes to priest and warlocks may only appeal to those that currently play those classes.

Something that kind of disappointed me was the Mastery system.  We were led to believe that the top-tier Mastery bonus would be something unique and interesting for each spec.

I have always been impressed by the creativity of the Blizzard developers.  They come up with so many unique ideas – especially considering that they have to create content for 10 classes with three specs each over 80 (now 85) levels on four continents.  So keep in mind that I’m only being mildly critical here.

Look at the shaman Masteries…

  • Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful ‘bonus” version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.
  • Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.
  • Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target’s health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.

Two of the three are unique and creative.  Elemental Overload and Deep Healing add real flavor to their respective  specs.

The priest Masteries…

  • Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.
  • Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.
  • Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like “Shadow priests” before they obtain Shadowform.

Again, two of the three are unique and creative and interesting.  They are different rather than being just more of the same.  (Well, really just one of the three (Radiance) is unique.  Shadow Orbs is just “buff shadow damage” with a nice animation, I’m guessing.)

Now look at the warlock Masteries…

  • Shadow DoTs: The damage caused by Shadow damage-over-time spells is increased.
  • Demon Damage: The damage caused by pets and Metamorphosis is increased.
  • Fire Direct Damage: The damage caused by Fire direct damage spells is increased.

/yawn

That’s a shame.  If I were a warlock I’d be bummed.  They couldn’t think of anything interesting other than passive damage buffs?

This makes me think that the rogue and mage Masteries will be similar.  Mage masteries will likely be passive buffs to arcane, fire, and frost damage.  Rogue buffs will probably be something similar.

I’m trying not to come off as complaining.  There is no doubt that Blizzard is improving the game and trying to make more engaging gameplay for everyone in every play style.  Maybe my expectations are too high, so when the changes are mundane there’s some let down.  Not everything can be flashy and shiny.  Maybe those warlock and priest changes are amazing, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t play those classes.

I’m looking forward to the other class previews, especially on the classes that I actually play.




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
April 2010
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